Exercise for depression? You bet.
Depression is an incredibly common condition and can present itself in many ways including continual feelings of sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, loss of appetite, sleep, concentration or feelings of fatigue. Given how often we might experience these feelings it’s easy to see how depressive episodes or can go unnoticed and major depressive disorders can take a while to diagnose.
I’m sure that you’ve all heard exercise gives you a boost in mood and that your body releases endorphins when you workout. This is true but the effect of exercise can be much longer lasting and more important when it comes to managing conditions like depression. Cardio exercise is the perfect prescription for preventing depressive episodes as well as helping people with depression manage their mental health.
30-45mins at a moderate intensity (just hard enough so that you’re puffing but can still carry on a conversation) on 3-4 days per week can have a significant effect.
Research has proven that this dose of exercise can be as effective as medication for some people at managing symptoms of depression and other mental health conditions. Not only that but it also prevents depressive episodes in the future and reduces the likelihood of the condition all together!
Here’s the real kicker though. Medications for mental health conditions often have side effects including, weight gain, loss of labido, metabolic risks like diabetes and heart disease as well as many others. Exercise on the other hand IMPROVES all of these things. Please note at this point I am in no way recommending people not take medication if that is what is recommended by a doctor however there is a place for exercise in the management of mental health in a clinical setting.
For those in the general population please see exercise as your best friend in building a protective barrier against mental health conditions. Combined with enough sleep, good relationships and a healthy diet your brain will thank you for many years to come!