Home Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy Why Exercise Helps When Dealing with Depression  

Why Exercise Helps When Dealing with Depression  

Published: Last updated:
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Exercise is extremely important for our physical health and ensuring that we live a long and healthy life. The effects of regular exercise on our cardiovascular health, immune systems, joint, and muscle health have long been known, and so we are all looking for effective ways to get fit and stay in good physical shape. 

However, regular exercise can also have a major positive impact on both our emotional and mental health. Exercise encourages the production of mood-enhancing chemicals in our brains, maintains healthy hormone balance, and leaves us with a general sense of well-being. With more and more people being diagnosed with depression and the burden of the related costs of medication, finding alternative ways to deal with depression is becoming a vital goal of society. In this article, we will explain why exercise helps when dealing with depression.

Increased ‘happy chemicals’

Mental health in general and depression, in particular, have long been misunderstood and misdiagnosed both by the medical and scientific community and the general public. Despite many common misconceptions, people who are suffering from clinical depression are not just in a bad mood or feeling sorry for themselves, they have a serious disease with a myriad of negative physical and mental health effects. 

Depression comes from the result of an imbalance in the chemicals in our bodies and this imbalance can be caused by a number of problems. Regular exercise has an incredible effect on depression as it releases many of the so-called ‘happy chemicalswhich improve mood and help you to feel yourself again. Increased levels of serotonin, dopamine, and various endorphins can all transform your short-term mood and your overall mental health which can help fight the awful symptoms of depression and allow you to live a happy life again.

More positive self-body image

We live in a world that is obsessed with how we look and this can cause enormous mental health issues for both men and women of every age. The pressure of society to look a certain way and modern beauty expectations can lead many people to feel inadequate and this can cause major depression. 

For people with a negative self-image, going to the gym to exercise in front of people can cause enormous anxiety and so they feel incapable of making the changes they need. Fortunately, there are many home workouts these days which have enabled so many people to get in shape from the comfort and safety of their own home. There are various apps that you can download on your phone which teach you exactly how to work out in order to achieve your personal fitness goals and improve your confidence. These apps show you how to do each exercise with perfect form and to track your progress as you advance through the program.

Healthy body, healthy mind

Regular exercise not only helps you to look great, it helps you feel great too. Along with the increased levels of happy chemicals described above, when you exercise regularly, your cardiovascular system, joints, muscles, and flexibility will all experience improvements that you will be able to feel. The connection between mind and body has been long established and so when you have a healthy body, you will have a healthy mind too.

Better quality sleep 

Getting enough quality sleep has a big impact on both your mood and your mental health but so many people don’t get enough sleep. All of the demands and worries of a busy life means that a huge proportion of us have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. This can cause chronic fatigue, a weakened immune system and contributes to chemical imbalances, all of which are direct causes of depression. With regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle, you will be able to fall asleep more easily and will stay asleep throughout the night. The transformative benefits of proper sleep really are a miracle cure and there is no single better way to improve your sleep than through exercise.

Depression is a horrible, debilitating condition and can leave people feeling extremely isolated and insecure. We live in a very stressful, difficult world and it can be so easy to feel completely overwhelmed. Chemical imbalances have a hugely negative effect on mental health but exercise can help to maintain the right balance and to breathe a fresh, positive outlook into people who are suffering from depression. There are so many different exercise methods and options available these days that everyone is sure to be able to find a workout which leaves them feeling great and helps to get rid of the horrible effects of depression.

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He interviews people within psychology, mental health, and well-being on his YouTube channel, The DRH Show.


© Copyright 2014–2034 Psychreg Ltd