We all know how important it is to exercise for optimal physical health, but what if it could improve our mental health as well? One benefit from exercising is the confidence boost we get from feeling fit, but what if there was more to it? Research is suggesting that doing some form of physical activity for just 30 minutes a day, a few times a week, can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. A study at Duke University has shown that exercise and medication have the same level of effectiveness against depression (specifically Major Depressive Disorder). Also, individuals in the study who continued to exercise were 50 % less likely to be depressed. Setting small goals for yourself and starting slow is always the key, and identifying what activities you like will help ensure you stay on target.
Most people are familiar with the fight or flight response that our bodies have as a sort of instinctual reaction to danger. In the video, fight or flight is compared to anxiety or active responses to stressful situations, and can be attributed to some of the smaller engagements we have on a day-to-day basis. Specifically, the video claims that the more active you are, the better you are to manage in a fight or flight situation, because one’s body is better acclimated to stress. Moreover, it is explained that when we exercise, our brains build up a better response to stress and anxiety as well. When we attribute these ideas to a normal every day situation, a person who exercises will have a better response to anxiety, as they would with confronting danger in a fight or flight situation, because their brain has also benefited from exercise.
Taking note of any barriers that may prevent you from achieving your goals of physical activity is also crucial. If you are someone who tends to be more shy in a crowd, try working out at home or going for a walk outside. Consulting with your healthcare professional about fitness goals and plans is always advisable. If you find yourself needing an extra dose of motivation, or if you require another outlet to work through your anxiety and depression, we are here to help. At The Therapy Centre, our team of experienced and committed clinicians work with clients’ everyday in the areas of self-confidence, low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. We are located at 2525 Old Bronte Road in Oakville, ON and 849 Upper Wentworth Street in Hamilton, ON and easily accessible from Peel Region, Milton, Burlington and the Niagara Region.
Links of Interest:
Seeker. “How Exercise Rewires Your Brain” Online Video Clip. Youtube. Youtube. 9 Jul. 2013. Web. 10 April 2018
Milivojevic, J. (2017). The Perfect Natural Antidepressant: Exercise. (online) Available at: https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/depression/exercise-the-perfect-natural-antidepressant/ (Accessed 13, April 2018).