Why Exercise Is Important for Helping Depression
It’s true that exercise is good medicine. While it is inadvisable to use exercise as the sole treatment of depression, it is one of the best treatments when used in combination with therapy, medication, and a healthy diet. Exercise doesn’t just work by promoting a positive self-image through health and fitness; it also improves your brain functioning. Let’s take a closer look.
When you engage in a short exercise routine, you’re providing your brain with more oxygen and increasing the elasticity and growth patterns of the brain. An interesting fact about depression and anxiety is that being depressed for a period of time physically alters your neural pathways. The longer you stay in a depressive state, the more hardwired your responses and thought processes become. By exercising, you actually stimulate growth and new connections, meaning it will be easier for you to train your brain to avoid unhealthy thought patterns.
By exercising on a regular basis you’re also helping your brain perform better, so you will be able to remember and process information more quickly. For some, depression can become difficult when all of a sudden you don’t feel as sharp as you once did. The realization can make you become more self-critical. Instead, understand that you can build your brain’s functioning back up with a little training.
You may be thinking that exercise seems like an impossibility because even getting out of bed is difficult. If this is the case, remember that you don’t have to do everything at once. Think of something you could see yourself doing, and try to do that a couple of times a week at first. If necessary, enlist the help of friends or family. Ask them to be encouraging, but not pushy.
Finally, don’t be hard on yourself if you miss a goal. Remember that you’re working toward a goal consistently, not winning immediately. It can be difficult to continue exercising when you don’t notice any results after the first few days or a week. It may take several weeks, just like any medication treatment, for the effects of exercise to truly take effect in your body. Stick with it along with your other treatments to see the most benefit.