Depression is a debilitating mental disorder that affects approximately 14.8 million Americans. Worse, studies show it is on the rise and has become a worldwide epidemic according to the World Health Organization. It’s a relief to know that exercise is a safe and effective natural remedy for depression that most anyone can put into his or her daily routine.
Some people only suffer depression at one point in their life like post-partum depression, while others are afflicted with it chronically over a lifetime. The medical industry has responded with a flood of powerful brain altering drugs to combat the effects of depression. Yet in many cases, exercise is proving to be just as effective, with positive side effects!
The Research: Exercise and Depression
A study published by the Archives of Medicine found exercise to nearly as effective as medication in treating patients with major depression.
Another study conducted on students at the University of Virginia observed a significant reduction in depression symptoms for those students diagnosed with the disorder who jogged regularly. Those who did not engage in any form of regular exercise showed no changes in their symptoms in contrast.
Related: Ways to Lower Risk of Depression
To bolster these findings, the American Journal of Epidemiology published a report where researchers found that a mere one point increase in regular exercise appeared to lower study participants’ risk of being depressed by 10%. More importantly it cut their risk of becoming chronically depressed by 17%!
Effects of Exercise on Depression
The effects of exercise on depression are quite profound. It can effect change in brain chemicals, reduce immune system chemicals that worsen depression and increases body temperature, which seems to have a calming effect.
When you exercise your brain releases endorphins that trigger positive feelings in your brain while reducing your perception of pain. While the effects are temporary, regularly feeling that “runner’s high” has a very positive, energizing affect, something those who suffer from depression need.
Your Immune System
There is a growing body of evidence that depression has as much or more to do with your immune system as it does your brain. While most medications are prescribed to help balance chemicals in the brain, research out of the University of California has suggested that inflammation, an immune response, may be a contributing cause of depression.
Regular moderate exercise is known to strengthen the immune system. It will also help keep body fat in check, and improve circulation, which benefits the brain and the body and could lead to fewer depression symptoms.
Exercise and Depression: Your Attitude Matters
The possibility of finding effective natural remedies for depression is good news for those who have resigned themselves to taking powerful anti-depressants and dealing with the side effects. With the many positive aspects of exercising to help with depression, it a good idea to make sure you get plenty of it on regular basis if you have or are at risk of developing symptoms of depression.
Besides the feel good brain chemicals and boost to your immune system, exercise will help you keep weight gain in check, make you stronger and give you more energy.