Research shows that mild to moderate depression can be treated with exercise, and the benefits are often equal to taking antidepressant medications. Sure, taking a pill may seem quicker and easier, but exercise not only alleviates the symptoms of depression, it also gives you many other health benefits (both mental AND physical), and none of the side-effects that can come with medication. (Note: If you are taking antidepressant medication- or any medication prescribed by your doctor- please talk to your doctor before making changes).
There are several reasons why exercise helps with depression, including the release of endorphins in the brain, and the promotion of neural growth. Seems like some great reasons to hit the gym to me!
Exercise is also an amazing treatment for anxiety. Have you ever noticed that a couple of hours after vigorous exercise, you feel more relaxed but also alert? In other words, exercise calms the nerves without making you tired. Just as exercise relieves physical tension in the body, it also relieves mental tension in the mind. In fact, science shows us that regular aerobic exercise has been known to decrease overall levels of tension, stabilize the mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.
Even 5 minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects! Exercise has another benefit that impacts anxiety- it’s a great distraction from racing thoughts and worrying. Sometimes the mind just needs a break, and the mental break that exercise provides, has an amazing way of combating anxiety, stress, and depression.
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