8 Exercises to Help Depression

Can a jog around the track cure your symptoms of depression?

Not quite, but routine exercise can help. Today, doctors are prescribing exercise to their patients in place of common prescription drugs to treat depression and anxiety. For example, people with moderate depression were assigned to either psychotherapy or exercise group to help treat their depression. 90 percent of the people who were assigned to the exercise program were no longer depressed, while half of the psychotherapy patients returned for additional treatment, according to a University of Wisconsin study.


Aerobic exercise, think elliptical workouts and high-intensity group classes that get your heart pumping, swimming, walking, and jogging, are the best forms of exercise to help with depression. Symptoms are said to begin fading in about four weeks. However, the regime should continue up to 12 weeks in order to get the maximum benefits, according to the Journal of Psychiatric Practice.


Pedal away your stress with a spin class or cycling tour. Biking provides a great opportunity for physical space and time to clear your head. The cycling community is known for being a close-knit group, so you’ll be able to socialize and share your passion for biking with likeminded crowds.


Say Om as your stress-levels and anxieties fade away. Controlled breathing exercises, and the practice of Sudarshan Kriya yoga has been linked to lower levels of the stress hormones corticotropin and cortisol present in the body, according to Harvard Health Publications.


Lace up your dancing shoes and hit the dance floor. Ballroom dancing requires you to be completely present in the moment. Waltzing in-stride with a partner increases your social connectedness, which can lower both stress and depression levels, according to Psychology Today. Dancing is a great alternative to meditation or yoga for those who want to practice mindfulness in a non-traditional way.


Any aerobic activity can help relieve depression. Dive into the pool for a swimming workout and release your feel-good hormones, or endorphins, to help depression and anxiety. Hard swimming workouts can promote hippocampal neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells in the area of the brain under chronic stress. Psychotherapist and swimmer, Moby Coquillard, believes that rigorous swimming workouts are powerful enough to combat depression, and prescribes exercise to depressed patients. In addition to potential biochemical changes, swimming promotes muscle stretching and relaxation, according to PsychCentral.


Get your heart rate going with a light, brisk jog. Jogging can improve your heart health and can improve your energy levels. In addition to lifting your mood, aerobic exercises help to prevent heart disease, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of cancer.


Walking promotes self-reliance, self-power, mastery and control. Walking provides to perfect the opportunity to track self-improvement, set goals and encourages the production of natural opiates in the body, leading to an overall sense of well-being. Experts say even going through the motions of a confident stride can build confidence.


Swinging the clubs and putting on the green can help people who are struggling with depression. Many professionals including Christina Kim, Andrew Jensen and Steven Bowditch, take to golf to help with the physical and mental symptoms of depression and anxiety, like insomnia, headaches, helplessness and dissatisfaction. Unlike other sports, in golf, you are playing against the course, not another player. This allows time for concentration, and although it’s not a team sport, allows for socialization.


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