Exercise is not just essential for maintaining physical health but also plays a crucial role in mental health, particularly when it comes to depression. Depression is a widespread mental illness that affects more than 264 million people worldwide. Exercise has proven to be an effective treatment for depression, with numerous studies highlighting the positive impact of physical activity on depression. In this blog, we will discuss the different types of exercises that can help manage depression and improve overall well-being.
How does exercise help mental health?
Engaging in physical activity can have a positive impact on mental health by releasing endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and reduce stress and anxiety levels. Endorphins improve mood and reduce pain perception, making them an effective treatment for depression.
Exercise also helps to reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression. Furthermore, physical activity can improve self-esteem, boost energy levels, and enhance sleep quality, all of which are essential factors for maintaining good mental health.
Here are the top 6 workout forms that can help you battle depression
- Aerobic Exercises
Aerobic exercises are any physical activity that increases heart rate and breathing. Running, cycling, swimming, and brisk walking are examples of aerobic exercises. These exercises stimulate the production of endorphins, which are known as the ‘feel-good’ hormones. A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people who engaged in the regular aerobic exercise had a 47% lower risk of developing depression.
- Resistance Training
Resistance training involves using weights, machines, or resistance bands to work against gravity. These exercises help build muscle mass, increase strength, and improve bone density. Resistance training has been shown to have a positive impact on depression. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that 12 weeks of resistance training significantly reduced depressive symptoms in adults with major depression.
Yoga is a form of exercise that involves a combination of physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation. Yoga is effective in reducing symptoms of depression. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that eight weeks of yoga significantly reduced symptoms of depression in women.
- Tai Chi
Tai Chi is a low-impact exercise that involves slow, flowing movements and deep breathing. Tai Chi is an effective treatment for depression. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that people with depression who practised Tai Chi had a significant reduction in symptoms of depression.
Dancing is a fun and engaging way to get exercise and improve mental health. Dancing has been found to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression. A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing found that people with depression who participated in dancing had a significant reduction in depressive symptoms.
- Mindful Movement Practices
Mindful movement practices such as Qigong, Pilates, and Feldenkrais are gentle exercises that focus on body awareness, breathing, and relaxation. These exercises are effective in reducing symptoms of depression. A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that 12 weeks of Qigong significantly reduced symptoms of depression in adults.
Regular exercise can be an effective treatment for depression. A combination of aerobic exercise, resistance training, yoga, Tai Chi, dancing, and mindful movement practices can have a positive impact on mental health. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, it is essential to seek professional help. A mental health professional can guide the developing of a treatment plan that incorporates exercise as a part of the overall management strategy.