Exercise is an effective but underused way to fight depression. Do you know why it works? When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These chemicals are used by your body to reduce pain. It works much like morphine. Endorphins also act as a natural sedative without leading to addiction or dependence. You could say that exercise is one good drug with no bad trips! After exercising, it’s the endorphins that leave you with that euphoric feeling sometimes described as “runners high”. It makes you feel like everything is right with the world.
If your are suffering from depression, here’s some other things exercise can do for you:
- Improves the quality of your sleep
- Increases energy levels
- Provides a distraction from negative thoughts
- Reduces immune system chemicals that can increase depression
- If you are exercising with a group it can provide strong social support
Here’s even better news, any type of exercise can help. So pick an activity you like and shoot for at least 30 minutes three times per week.
I suffered from depression when I started my first teaching job. Any fellow teachers out there know how overwhelming that first year can be. I recovered with therapy, antidepressants and exercise. I don’t need the therapy or antidepressants anymore, but exercise is my daily medicine and believe me, I won’t skip it. It’s my favorite drug!
Check the workouts page for some programs that can get you on the road to feeling better and add exercise to your other methods of relieving depression.