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When you are suffering from depression or anxiety, even the thought of exercising seems to be impossible. And yet, medical experts time and again suggest exercising regularly to reduce depressive symptoms. Sounds like a paradox right?
But there is enough scientific proof to suggest that exercise can indeed make you feel better when you’re down and out. In fact, a study conducted at the University of Texas found that even 30 minutes of moderately-intense exercise five days a week substantially reduces the symptoms of depression by nearly half.
Of course, working out is not a substitute for medication–but it can help you manage your depression better. Here’s how:
1. Exercise is a mood enhancer
Ever noticed how you feel happier after a run? Research shows that exercise is actually powerful enough to lighten your mood. In a study done by the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, it was found that people with depression who were working out as well as taking antidepressants had higher rates of remission.
You see, exercise releases feel-good hormones called endorphins which can make you feel happier and less stressed.
2. Reduces fear attached with fight or flight response
When panicked, people with anxiety showcase symptoms like sweating, dizziness, and racing heart. This is because anxiety makes people give fight or flight reactions to normal experiences.
A 2008 study from the journal Depression and Anxiety states that regular exercise reduces anxiety and depression sensitivity and helps people associate sweating and a racing heart with safety rather than danger.
3. Even a little bit of exercise goes a long way
You don’t have to push yourself for hours to see a difference in your mental health. A study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that just an hour of exercise every week might be enough to prevent depression. So 15 minutes of dance-based exercise or even on-the-spot jogging daily can become a powerful force of transformation for your mental health.
4. Exercise also boosts self-confidence
A new study shows that exercise is not just good for weight loss, but also self image. Constantly meeting exercise goals, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Of course, seeing yourself looking fitter makes you feel better about yourself too.