Did you know you can cure your mental health problems with exercise without any help from antidepressants? Exercise not only has benefits for a healthy body, but it also is effective for mental health.
Benefits of Exercising for depression, anxiety, and stress:
Exercise does not only mean being in shape and attractive muscle sizes. Exercise of course can improve your physique and keep you physically healthy, it shapes your waistline, improves vigor, and even increases your lifespan. But that’s not entirely what motivates those who exercise to stay active.
People who exercise on a daily basis, are normally inclined to a healthy sense of well-being. People who exercise regularly feel more energetic throughout the day, stay away from insomnia, have sharper memories, and feel confident and positive about themselves. And not only that. Exercise is an amazingly powerful medicine for common mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, stress, ADHD, and more.
It also improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood. And you don’t have to be a fitness freak to gain the benefits. Studies have shown that modest amounts of exercise can make a quite surprising difference. Despite age or fitness level, you can learn to use exercise anytime as a powerful tool to feel healthy and a better person.
Research indicates, as effectively as antidepressant medication, exercise can treat mild to moderate depression. Additionally there will be no excessive side-effects. Studies shows, aerobic exercise can be as impactful as antidepressants in curing mild to moderate depression. In addition to relieving depression symptoms, research also shows that maintaining an exercise plan can prevent you from getting ill quickly.
Exercise is a proficient and powerful depression fighter for several reasons. Most crucially, it promotes all kinds of changes in the brain, including reduced inflammation, neural growth, and new movement patterns that promote feelings of stability and well-being. It also releases endorphins, powerful hormones in your brain that energize your inner self and make you feel good. Finally, exercise can also assist as a distraction, allowing you to find some needful time to break out of the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression.
Exercise is an organic and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical as well as mental energy, and improves well-being through the release of endorphins. Anything that gets you moving can help, but you’ll get a higher benefit if you pay attention rather zoning out.
Not only that, while exercising if you can concentrate on the sensation of your feet hitting the ground, or the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the wind on your skin, you’ll work on your mindfulness as well. It will enhance your focus and concentration power. Using mindfulness techniques, you’ll not only strengthen your physical condition faster, but you may also be able to break the flow of constant worries running through your head.
What can you do when you’re under stress? You can feel your muscles tense up, especially in your face, neck, and shoulders, and you start suffering with back or neck pain, or painful headaches. You may feel a tightness in your chest, a pounding heartbeat, or muscle cramps. You may also experience problems such as insomnia, stomachache, heartburn, or frequent urination. The worry and discomfort of these unhealthy bodily diseases can in turn lead to even more stress, creating a vicious cycle between your mind and body.
Exercising is an effective way to break this discomfort. As well as releasing endorphins in the brain, physical activities help to calm the muscles and soothe tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely interconnected, when your body feels better, so will your mind.
Curing ADHD and PTSD
Exercising regularly can actually help your nervous system become “unstuck” and begin to move out of the immobilization stress response. It reduces the symptoms of ADHD and improves concentration, motivation, memory, and mood. Also, physical activity immediately boosts the brain’s dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine levels—all of which affect focus and attention. In this way, exercise works as effectively as ADHD medications.
Instead of allowing your mind to suffer with anxiety, pay close attention to the physical sensations in your joints and muscles, even your insides as your body moves. Exercises that involve movements of both arms and legs, like walking (especially in sand), running, swimming, weight lifting, or dancing—are some of the best exercise choices.
Outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, sailing, rock climbing, rafting, and skiing have also been shown to reduce the symptoms of PTSD.
Overcoming mental health obstacles to exercise
Now that you know exercise will help you feel much better and that it does not really take as much effort as you might have imagined. But taking that first step is still difficult in a few cases. Exercise obstacles are precise, especially when you’re also struggling with mental diseases. Here are some common obstacles and how you can get past them.
If you feel exhausted- Don’t be skeptical of how it sounds. It might sound crazy, that when you’re tired or stressed, working out is an insane idea. But the truth is that physical movements are an effective energizer. Research shows that everyday exercise can effectively reduce fatigue and enhance your energy levels. If you are really feeling tired, go for a 5-minute walk. Chances are, you’ll be inclined to go for another five minutes.
If you feel overwhelmed- When you’re depressed or suffering from anxiety, the thought of adding another commitment can seem overwhelming. Working out then would feel unobtainable. Just remember that exercise helps us do everything else better. If you start thinking of physical activity as a preference, you will soon find ways to fit the time easily into your busy schedule.
If you feel hopeless- Even if you’re beginning at “ground zero,” you can still do physical activity. Exercise helps you get in healthy shape. If you have no experience in workouts, start easy with the low-impact movement for a few minutes per day.
If you feel bad about yourself- If you’re having trouble making peace with your body type and liking it, then it’s time to think differently about your body. No matter your age, weight, or fitness level, there are many people out there like you with the same wish of getting fit. Try making friends with people who are having similar difficulties. Take classes with them at a variety of fitness levels.
If you feel pain- If you have a disability, serious weight problem, arthritis, or any fracture or illness that limits your flexibility, talk to your healthcare coach about ways to safely exercise. You should never ignore pain. Divide your exercise into a shorter but more frequent timespan if that helps, or try working out in the water to lessen joint or muscle discomfort.
How to start exercising when you’re feeling anxious or depressed
We find it hard enough to motivate ourselves to work out at the best of times. When we feel stressed, depressed, anxious, or have other mental or emotional troubles, it can seem beyond difficult. This is especially valid of depression and anxiety, which can make you feel cornered in a catch-22 situation. When you know physical activity will make you feel better, but depression is not letting your energy and motivation to work out. Or if your social anxiety is not letting you join an exercise class or running through the park, what can you do?
Just start small
When you’re under the cloud of immense pressure and haven’t exercised for a long time, setting absurd goals like completing a marathon or working out for an hour every morning will only leave you more in melancholy if you fall short. It is better to set achievable goals and improve from there.
Exercise when your energy is comparatively higher
If depression or anxiety has you feeling exhausted and unmotivated all day long, try dancing to music or simply going for a walk. Even a short, 15-minute walk can help brighten your mind, improve your mood, and enhance your energy level. You’ll experience a better sense of control over your well-being. You may even feel motivated enough to exercise more. Maybe you could even be motivated to go for a further walk, maybe a run too.
Should you consult a doctor?
If you’re under any medication, it’s always safe to have a doctor’s opinion before starting something new. If you exercise regularly but still are suffering from depression or anxiety in your daily living, visit your doctor or mental health professional. Exercise is indeed a great way to ease depression or anxiety but isn’t a replacement for talk therapy (psychotherapy) or medications.
Your exercise plan
If you are suffering from depression, it is important to plan a workout program which will work for you. Make sure you enjoy the time exercising. Set some attainable goals and decide if you like to exercise with a group of people, by yourself or with a partner. Many people find it helpful to have a partner or a group, as to get support and motivation. You can also log your exercise, as a way to monitor your progress.
Some tips to start and keep up your exercise plan:
Do not overtire yourself.
Be committed to your exercise plan.
Know that your motivation might change from time to time, but that shouldn’t stop you from going on.