Beating Depression with Exercise!

Beating Depression with Exercise!

For those suffering from stress and depression, regular exercise may be a great cure. Having a fabulous sweat session lets you have some fun while ensuring that you’re distracted from your worries. However, what’s more noteworthy about the benefits of exercise, especially on your mood, is that it helps release hormones that make you happy.

Also, it keeps your mood lifted for several hours after your workout or for the rest of your day if you start in the a.m. If exercise isn’t your cup of tea or if you find it overwhelming or time-consuming, try adding in just 10 minutes of exercise every day and slowly increase the length as you progress and enjoy the journey.

Just the smallest amount of exercise a day can prove to be beneficial when it comes to your mood and overall well being and besides, it’s much better than doing nothing or stressing out over something troubling you.

Tailoring Exercise to Treat Depression

Regular exercise is known to improve self-esteem, self-control, and sleep, and help ward off or slow the progression of many chronic medical conditions, particularly those related to being overweight or obese

Exercise leads to the release of endorphins, body chemicals that reduce the perception of pain, and increase the feeling of well-being. Endorphin release is the basis for the idea that exercise has a positive effect on symptoms of depression.

The evidence in favor of exercise as a treatment for depression is compelling, according to this recent review. But what kind of exercise? And how much, how often, and at what intensity is necessary to make a significant difference?


Stress is common in the modern world and all of us are likely to experience it from time to time. However, when it becomes chronic, it can be quite crippling. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over 40 million people suffer from anxiety disorders in the US. Therefore, if you feel you’re a victim of anxiety disorder or just the occasional stressful episode, understand that you’re not the only one.

For some people, exercise can be a little stressful and intense workouts can put a lot of stress on the mind and body as well. Furthermore, some people may avoid public spaces such as gyms and other recreational centers due to the fear of having a panic attack. In such situations, it is best to perform some moderate-intensity, comforting exercises such as swimming, walking, yoga, and dance.

Working out a little every day can help you develop a feeling of accomplishment as you become more capable of handling stressful situations. You become more confident and start making solid decisions on your own. You will also become more productive. Exercise also calms your nerves, thus boosting its stress-busting ability.


Several studies have reported that exercise works similar to antidepressants. This is mainly because it increases the production of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that improves mental health, boosts mood, and productivity and helps tackle stress and depression.

Sweating it out and getting your heart racing with a great workout helps in the release of endorphins, which are feel-good chemicals that work like the drug, morphine, except that they’re naturally produced in your body.

Pro Tip: Try participating in group workouts as this could help build your social circle and motivate you to work out regularly.


There's a reason you've heard time and again that running is one of the best exercises for your health: It can torch calories, reduce food cravings, and lower your risk for heart disease. Running for just five minutes a day might even help you live longer, according to 2014 research.

But it's also been shown to improve mood in a variety of ways, Michaelis says. "Running causes lasting changes in our 'feel good' neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, both during and after exercise," he explains. What's more: The repetitive motions of running appear to have a meditative effect on the brain.

The mental benefits can be especially powerful for people who suffer from depression. In a 2006 review published in the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, researchers found evidence that exercise can work in a similar way to antidepressants, alleviating major depressive disorder by promoting the growth of new neurons in the brain.

Also good: Running may make it easier for you to fall asleep at night, says Michaelis, which benefits your overall mental health by improving memory, lowering stress levels, and protecting against depression.

Hiking in the woods

To maximize the mental health benefits of your sweat session, consider hitting the trails. "Nature has a calming effect on the mind," says Michaelis. "There is evidence that being around plants, trees, and especially decaying trees can help reduce anxiety because these plants emit chemicals to slow down the process of their decay, which appears to slow us down as well."

In a 2009 study published in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, Japanese researchers sent participants to either a wooded or urban area. They found that those who'd taken a 20-minute "forest bath" (a.k.a. a walk in the woods), had lower stress-hormone levels than the participants who had been in a city.

Newer research seems to reinforce the idea that being immersed in nature is good for your mental health. A 2015 study published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning, for example, discovered that when young adults went on a 50-minute nature walk, they felt less anxious and had improved memory function.

Cut Your Risk of Depression by Half

As the researchers sorted through the data, they discovered that for every 50 minutes of exercise added each week, the rate of depression fell by half. In other words, if you're not exercising right now, then adding just 1-hour of walking per week will cut your risk of depression by 50%.

The same holds true if you're already an exerciser. Let's say that right now you exercise for 5 hours each week. Bumping it up to 6 hours will cut your personal risk of depression by half.

I'm sure there is an upper limit to this at some point, but the evidence is clear: exercise often and it's more likely that you'll enjoy the rest of your life.

How You Can Apply This To Your Life

If you're struggling with depression, then the application of this article should be obvious. (And if you know someone battling with depression, then please share this research with them. It might help them turn the corner.)

But even if you consider yourself to be a happy person, the principle of proving your identity to yourself can apply to virtually any goal you want to achieve.

Pick a daily habit that will strengthen your sense of self-worth and solidify your identity. For example, you could try meditation, exercise, writing, or creating art.

Whatever you choose, pick it now, start small, and begin proving to yourself that you can become the type of person you want to become. Tiny habits, when repeated consistently, can be the difference success or failure, confidence or doubt, and even happiness or depression.