23 Feb 7 Great Exercises to Ease Depression
Break a Sweat for Depression Relief
Could a trip to the gym be just what the therapist ordered?
Exercise certainly isn’t a depression cure-all, but a study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology found that heart-pumping, endorphin-boosting workouts actually promote happiness.
Researchers say that more physically active people reported greater general feelings of excitement and enthusiasm than less-active people. And beyond its protective effect against feelings of depression, exercise may reduce stress and help you secure a better night’s sleep. That’s why your favorite fitness routine can be an excellent addition to your depression treatment plan.
“Exercise stimulates the release of many of the brain chemicals thought to be in low supply when someone is battling depression,” explains David Muzina, MD, the founding director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Mood Disorders Treatment and Research.
Here are 7 great exercises to help ease depression symptoms.
Set Off That Runner’s High
When it comes to workouts that fight depression, aerobic and cardio exercises have the edge. “To date, the strongest evidence seems to support aerobic exercise,” says Dr. Muzina. While the correct “dose” of depression-fighting exercise is up for debate, some experts recommend 20 to 30 minutes most days of the week. A recent review of numerous scientific studies found no association between the intensity level of the exercise and its emotional benefit — so simply moving more is a great start.
Ever heard of runner’s high? “The most tangible example of exercise stimulating certain brain chemicals is the runner’s high that many athletes report experiencing once crossing a certain threshold of exertion while running,” explains Muzina. That euphoria is due to the release of endorphins in the brain in response to the sustained physical activity.
“Endorphins are our body’s natural morphine and, when released by special glands in our brains, they can produce a sense of well-being or joy and also decrease pain levels.”
Build Your Muscles
Boost your strength, boost your happiness? A recent study of 45 stroke survivors with depression found that a 10-week strength training program helped reduced symptoms of depression (among numerous other benefits).
“Strength training is about mastery and control,” says Leslie Seppinni, PhD, a clinical psychologist and family therapist in Beverly Hills. “It requires full attention and concentration. More importantly, people can see the results, the outline of the muscles forming, from dedication and training.”
Just be sure to start slowly and use the assistance of a personal trainer if needed.
Become a Yogi
Ohm — in a study of 65 women with depression and anxiety, the 34 women who took a yoga class twice a week for two months showed a significant decrease in depression and anxiety symptoms, compared to the 31 women who were not in the class.
“Eastern traditions such as yoga have a wonderful antidepressant effect in that they improve flexibility; involve mindfulness, which breaks up repetitive negative thoughts; increase strength; make you aware of your breathing; improve balance; and contain a meditative component,” says Norman E. Rosenthal, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Rosenthal suggests starting with a yoga class in your area so you can be sure that you’re doing the movements and poses properly.
To see all seven exercises, visit EverydayHealth.com.