Depression may well be the biggest issue of modern civilization. With the development of technology and science, we have become exposed to new situations and experiences. However, it has also made us exposed to new issues and challenges. A human being today is expected to achieve many things, to develop in all fields of life and to keep up the pace with the ever-growing world. Is it possible to do that without feeling stressed and under enormous pressure? Of course not.
Depression is a by-product of the modern way of life. It is a feeling that sneaks up upon us, without us noticing it. It grows stronger over a longer period, making its way into every aspect of our lives. How can we fight it? Is it an impossible task? Physical exercise has long been a tool helping us look better and feel better about ourselves. It has also been proven to be effective in preventing and fighting depression. Once you know how it helps you, you will be far more motivated to make physical exercise your habit.
How physical activity prevents and fights depression?
First of all, you should understand that depression as a health condition is associated with chronic inflammation. As a rule, regular exercise helps you reduce the inflammation in your body, thus decreasing the effects of depression. Secondly, depressed people generally have lower levels of BDNF, which is a chemical that helps our brain grow. Physical exercise boosts the production of this chemical, helping our depressed brain to change its pattern and keep remodeling.
When you exercise, you also experience numerous positive psychological changes. You feel more confident and prouder of yourself; you are more determined and active in your community. All of these positive feelings are powerful tools in fighting depression. On the other hand, pharmaceutical companies are trying to reduce depression to one cause only, offering the solution in the form of a pill. Although in some cases medications are necessary to ease symptoms of depression, drugs are not the only answer. There are many interrelated causes and issues associated with depression and the fact is that regular physical exercise successfully deals with many of them. The trick is to find the right kind of activity for you.
Yoga may be the first form of exercise that comes to your mind when you think of relaxing activity. There’s a low risk of getting injured on a yoga class and its short-term effects are numerous.
However, studies have shown that people who practice yoga regularly reduce their anxiety and depression levels. They are also less prone to anger and their neurotic symptoms are soothed.
The reason why yoga is so effective in preventing and fighting depression is that it focuses on deep breathing and inner reflection. It’s necessary to clear your mind from external problems in order to breathe properly and to listen to your body. It makes you feel more aware of your body and makes you more appreciative of it. Consequently, it soothes your depression level. If you want to try out yoga, ask around about quality yoga studios and good yoga instructors. You need to feel comfortable in the yoga studio and you need to trust your yoga instructor. That’s the fastest way to experiencing the benefits of yoga.
When it comes to fighting depression, cycling has a dual effect. Firstly, you have to go outside and spend time in the fresh air to cycle. Many of us spend too much time in a closed space, whether it’s our work or our home, always doing some tasks or chores. Cycling gets you out, allowing you to enjoy the surroundings. It’s best to cycle through the woods or a park or near a lake or river. Reconnecting yourself with nature is important if you want to maintain your mental health.
Cycling also allows you to get into the form of a meditative state. The repetitive pedaling shifts your mind from your daily problems to a higher state. You don’t think too much, you simply pedal.
To ensure maximum comfort and get optimum results from cycling, you should get proper bike accessories which will allow you to stick to regular exercise and up your game.
Of course, the greatest benefit of hiking is that it gets you outside, in nature. You will get to experience the wilderness and the honest beauty of the living world around you. Hiking up the mountain or through the forest makes you aware of your connection to nature and every living thing, being that a plant or an animal. It shifts your focus from your problems to the beauty around you. Spending time in nature brings you various mental benefits, which is something you desperately need if you are feeling depressed.
More precisely, one study has shown that hiking through the woods lowers the level of stress hormones in our bodies. This is something that won’t happen if you take a long walk in an urban area. To enjoy the benefits of hiking, you only need quality trainers, layered, comfortable clothes and a bottle of water. No other exercise is so simple yet so beneficial to your mental health.
This is yet another form of physical activity that brings maximum benefits if it’s done outside. Don’t cage yourself inside the gym. Instead, expose your feet to natural ground like soil in a forest or a park or even the sand on the beach. It’s no wonder many people go for a run whenever they’re feeling down. Running is an aerobic activity that releases a high level of endorphins, which create euphoria. In other words, running boosts your mood and gets you energized. It’s a highly important benefit for people suffering from depression, don’t you think?
While the euphoric feeling is a short-term benefit of running, this outdoor activity brings significant positive long-term results. Certain studies have shown that running regularly is as effective as psychotherapy. In many cases, people turn to psychotherapy in the hope of relieving symptoms of depression. Running regularly for a couple of months will have the same effects.
Again, you don’t need much for this type of exercise – a pair of good trainers, comfy clothes and some water and you’re good to go. Just bear in mind that running in natural surroundings always beats running in an urban area.
Dancing is one of the most natural ways of expressing our positive feelings and boosting our mood. Every person loves to dance, even though some do it in public and some will only give themselves to the rhythm in the comfort of their home. The great thing about dancing is that you can choose how you want to do it – you can attend Zumba classes, attend salsa or tango classes with a partner or simply dance to your favorite beats at home. Whichever form you choose, it will relieve the stress and anxiety levels for sure.
Moreover, it has been proven that dance classes are more effective at reducing anxiety than regular physical education. It’s because dancing isn’t just about performing physical movements and speed up your heartbeat. It’s also a form of personal expression that allows you to be creative and get inspired. Being able to express yourself will then strengthen the connection between your mind and body. The stronger that connection is, the stronger you mentally are. You don’t need any special equipment for dancing – you can do it barefoot if you feel like it. If you opt for dancing classes, make sure you have comfortable footwear and that people around you, as well as the dance instructor, give away positive energy.
Many people associate strength training with building muscles and strengthening your physique. However, strength training also brings mental benefits. If you dedicate your time to regular strength training, you’ll notice that your anxiety and depression symptoms are reduced. The reason behind this is that strength training boosts your mood and builds your self-esteem. It’s more difficult to be depressed if you are actively working on your confidence. It also regulates your sleeping patterns, and we all know how much sleep is important for our well-being. Lacking sleep or bad quality of sleep has a negative impact on your mental health and your body. Resistance training will help you fall asleep more easily and get quality sleep.
If you want to try out resistance training, it’s best to go to the gym where you’ll have a professional at your service. If you don’t know what you’re doing or if you don’t do the exercises properly, you’re risking getting hurt or injured. A gym instructor will guide you and create a training program just for you, making it easier for you to stick to this habit.
Depression is always lurking, waiting for you to feel cornered or overwhelmed with stress and obligations. The best tool for fighting it is prevention. Physical exercise is a great way to prevent depression from ever developing. In case you are already suffering from it, physical exercise will help you ease the symptoms and fight it more effectively. In other words, fitness will help you be what you really are – a positive, happy person who deserves to feel good.