Author: Joe Sage, NASM-CPT, FNS, CES, WLS
We always hear that daily exercise decreases our chances of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Did you know it can also help those who suffer from depression and anxiety? According to the CDC, 9% of US adults suffer from depression and 15% from anxiety. Studies have shown that daily physical activity can have the same effect on the body as taking certain medications to treat both conditions. The amount of exercise it takes before you start to feel better about yourself might be less than you think.
When taking part in physical activity your body releases chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins— sometimes known as natural painkillers— interact with receptors in the brain which can help reduce pain and create a positive feeling in the body. Exercise can also lower the amount of tension that the body normally generates when sitting or lounging for lengthy amounts of time, which can lead to feeling anxious. Other benefits include an outlet for stress, improved mood, improved self-esteem, and better sleep; all of which can help you feel less depressed and lower anxiety.
You might be wondering how much exercise it takes before you start to notice a difference in mood. While it’s recommended that we achieve 30-60 minutes of physical activity each day for a healthy lifestyle, taking a brisk walk for just 15 minutes has been shown to improve mood and increase energy. Any physical activity that you are wanting to do, maybe chores around the house or working in the yard, can have a positive effect on your mood. Even just the way you stand or walk can impact your mood and self-esteem. Try this: stand up tall with your back straight and your head held high, and take several steps. Think about how you felt after walking. Now this time stand up slouched over with your head pointed more towards the ground. Did one of them make you feel better about yourself? (Hint-the first one)
Most people will have to deal with depression or anxiety at some point during their lives—even if it is very mild and only for a short time. With people becoming more accustomed to a sedentary lifestyle, it is likely we will see a rise in depression and anxiety. I’ve suffered depression in the past and physical activity has always helped me cope. Not only do the endorphins produced during exercise better your mood and self-esteem, but physical activity acts as an outlet for anxiety and stress. Not sure where to begin? Let’s take a walk. If you are still unconvinced, come see me at Achieve Wellness and give me the opportunity to prove to you the benefits of a regular exercise plan.