The Effects of Exercise on Anxiety & Depression

Anxiety & Depression
The prevalence of anxiety and depression over the last few years has apparently been increased. Many of those who experience depression or anxiety do not feel like they want to or even have enough energy to get out and start exercising.
However, many studies have shown that exercise is helpful to those who are suffering from either anxiety or depression. The three main physiological mechanisms behind the connection between increased exercise and decreased anxiety and depressive symptoms are-
  • The increase of neurotransmitters and endorphins that elicit a ‘feel good’  response, 
  • Decreasing the immune system chemicals that are thought to  have a negative impact on both anxiety and depression and increasing  body temperature. 
  • Increasing the body temperature allows us to feel more calm which, as a result, decreases the negative symptoms felt by  anxiety and depression.
Exercise can also have benefits on one’s psychological well-being and emotional well-being.
  • Firstly, engaging in regular  exercise can help to increase both your self-confidence and  self-efficacy through overcoming barriers, improving your physical  appearance and achieving goals that you have set for yourself. 
  • Secondly, exercise acts as a distraction from the things that are bothering you  in your life. When you’re exercising, you’re focusing on the activity  and technique or focusing on following your exercise instructor. 
  • Thirdly, exercise can help increase your social interactions, either by  going to the gym with a “gym buddy”, joining a running or walking club  or participating in a group exercise class. Exercising with people gives you an opportunity to interact and possibly meet new individuals. 
  • Lastly, exercise is a positive way to cope with your negative feelings.  Just think, exercise helps to improve your body both inside and out,  rather than turning to food or smoking as your way of relieving negative symptoms.
Exercise helps combat symptoms of anxiety and depression. Despite the fact that it may be hard for people to begin practising when feeling these negative symptoms, it is important to get up and start moving. Every little bit can make a difference.. Take a walk outside, climb your stairs a few times, take a group exercise class with a friend… anything! It is also important for you to realize that you are not alone in your struggles and that there are people and resources available to you that can help.

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