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Depression and anxiety are real. And for most people, it is so bad that getting out of the bed becomes a challenge. Doing daily activities is a huge struggle, that’s why exercising when you are depressed or anxious will never even cross your mind. But guess what? Exercise can play a significant role in managing your symptoms, and in turn, improving your mental health.
“The body is the mind and the mind is the body. When you take care of yourself, you are helping the whole system,” says Ben Michaelis, PhD, an evolutionary clinical psychologist and author of Your Next Big Thing: 10 Small Steps to Get Moving and Get Happy.
Research suggests that adults should get a standard 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every week. Some exercises help your mental health more than others, that’s why it is important to make them a part of your routine.
So without further ado, let’s learn about these exercises:
We’ve all heard that running is the best exercise for physical health, but it is equally beneficial for your mental health. For starters, it can help you burn calories, reduce food cravings, and lower your risk for heart disease. According to a 2014 study, running for just five minutes a day might help you live longer.
It’s also known to improve your mental health in a variety of ways. That’s because running causes lasting changes in the feel-good neurotransmitters, serotonin and norepinephrine, both during and after exercise.
In a 2006 review published in the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, researchers found evidence that exercise can work in a similar way to antidepressants. Now that’s a great sign! It also helps to induce sleep in some people, and that’s especially helpful for insomniacs.
Exercising outdoors is considered great for both physical and mental health, and that’s exactly why hiking is a part of this list. Nature is said to have a calming effect on the mind, and research goes on to show that it actually reduces anxiety and slows depression.
In a 2009 study published in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine, Japanese researchers sent participants for hiking. Those who had taken a 20-minute hike had lower stress hormone levels.
There’s another 2015 study published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning that found that when adults went on a 50-minute nature hike, their anxiety levels were much lower, and they had improved memory function.
This list is incomplete without the mention of yoga. We all know how this exercise rejuvenates the body, mind and soul, and it’s true in every sense of the word. In a 2007 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, all the participants who had gone for yoga classes saw improved anxiety levels, as well as fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety and anger.
That’s not all— another research study published in Alternative Medicine Review found out a significant reduction in stress and anxiety symptoms after starting yoga.
“The great thing about yoga is that besides the stretching and core strengthening, there is a tremendous focus on breathing, which helps to slow down and calm the mind,” says Michaelis.
So ladies, practice these exercises and keep anxiety and depression at bay!