Exercise helps beat depression

Posted on February 19th 2015

Exercise helps beat depression – not a theory but a scientific fact.

It has long been known that regular exercise is good for our physical health. It can reduce risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer by up to fifty percent.  In recent years, studies have shown that regular physical activity also has benefits for our mental health.

Exercise does not need to be intensive or exhausting to be effective.  A study carried out at the Cooper Research institute in Dallas found that people who walked as little as 35minutes, six days per week experienced a reduction in their level of depression by 47 percent. This study also shows that just three hours of regular exercise per week can reduce the symptoms of mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant drugs. The effects of physical exercise extend short-term and can help alleviate long-term depression. For some time now, scientists have pondered how exercising can boost brain function. It has become clear that regardless of age or fitness, making time for exercise provides some considerable mental benefits. Exercise releases chemicals in the brain that make us feel good – boosting self-esteem, help with concentration as well as sleep.

We often talk about the mind and body as though they are completely separate, but they are not. The mind can’t function unless the body is ‘running’ properly, and the body does not work correctly if the mind is not functioning soundly.  To work properly, our body needs regular exercise and most of us feel good when we are active.

Professor Otto from the Boston University states that the link between exercise and mood is pretty strong. We usually get a mood-enhancement effect within five minutes after moderate exercise.  He furthermore suggests that there is good epidemiological data that suggests that active people are less depressed than inactive people and people who were active and stopped tend to be more depressed than those who maintain or initiate an exercise program.

Get inspired to exercise and find out how you can benefit:

  • Boost happy chemicals. Exercise releases endorphins, the feel good hormones which create feelings of happiness and euphoria.
  • Reduce stress. When we are stressed, our body releases the hormone adrenaline. Adrenaline has many different actions depending on the type of cells it is acting upon. However the overall effect of adrenaline is to prepare the body for the ‘fight or flight’ response in times of stress. Regular physical activity gets rid of the adrenaline accumulated during stress by metabolising any excess in the bloodstream.
  • For an extra boost in self-esteem, exercise outdoors. Vitamin D acquired from the sun can lessen the likelihood of experiencing depressive symptoms.
  • Alleviate anxiety. Chemicals released during and after exercise can help people with anxiety calm down.

The benefits of regular exercise are clearly obvious. All too often we are fully aware of these benefits but lack the motivation to get started. If you need help to get motivated, why not ask a professional? Hypnotherapy can help you raise your motivation so that you too can experience the benefits of a healthier and happy lifestyle.

For more information, contact

Angela Winterton Dip.Hyp, MHS, GQHP,GHR reg., NRH, Dip.CP,MCS Acc, Dip.SMC

Clinical Hypnotherapist & Psychotherapist, Aspired Therapies