Exercise has a variety of mental health benefits. It results in the release of endorphins, which trigger positive sensations throughout the body. The purpose of endorphins is to reduce awareness of pain and increase your mood. This is the source of the “runner’s high.”
Some known mental health benefits of exercising include:
It is recommended to exercise at least 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes per week. Start slowly and build up to more periods of exercise if you can. The greatest benefits – both physical and mental – happen when you are able to exercise 4-5 times a week.
According to the American Heart Association, you should seek 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. This amount can be spread across as many sessions as you like. Vigorous exercise can be limited to just 75 minutes a week.
Even a small amount of exercise can produce effects on depression. You can begin with as little as 20 minutes of moderate exercise to notice a difference. However, it’s best if you can maintain an exercise routine for 150 minutes a week.
Getting motivated to exercise is a challenge for everyone at first. Here are a few tips to get started:
It is important to give exercise a try to see how it works out for you. Once you feel positive results, motivation is easier. On the other hand, it is much more difficult to force yourself to do something just because you think you “have” to.
Your personal motivation will go a long way in helping you achieve your goals. With any big change in your lifestyle, think about the outcome that’s important to you. What do you hope to achieve by exercising? How will that outcome make your life better and how will it feel?
Set a routine and commit. This is especially crucial at first if you get easily distracted. For example, if your exercise routine starts at 6:00PM each Saturday, set a reminder at 5:30PM to change into gym clothes.
Any exercise you choose and stick with can help with depression. At first, the best approach is to pick an exercise you enjoy. The less discomfort and the more fun you feel, the better. Consider your interests and your current state of health. For example, some people find running exhilarating, while others enjoy swimming because it is low impact.
You do not need a prescription to exercise. However, you may wish to discuss your plans with your doctor, especially if you have health concerns that may affect your ability to exercise. Talk to your doctor about both your exercise regime and your depression symptoms.
Exercise is just one part of a complete course of treatment for mild or moderate depression. Although lifestyle changes can help, many people require some form of medication to manage symptoms.
To learn more about the benefits of exercise, contact Complete Neurological Care.