It is no secret that exercise is beneficial for multiple health reasons. It strengthens your heart, increases energy levels, lowers blood pressure, improves muscle tone and strength, reduces body fat, and builds bone density.
The benefits are not only physical, but emotional as well. Many studies suggest that individuals who exercise regularly benefit with a positive boost in mood and lower rates of depression.
When a person exercises, endorphins are released in the body. Endorphins are chemicals that interact with brain receptors that reduce a person’s perception of pain. Endorphins encourage a euphoric feeling in the body, similar to morphine. This post-activity feeling has also been called “runner’s high.” Endorphins bind to the same neuron receptors that connect to some pain medications. However, unlike narcotics, the activation of these receptors does not lead to addiction or dependence.
Exercise also reduces immune-system chemicals that can exacerbate depression. Along with this, an increase in core body temperature could have a calming effect on a person. It has also been suggested that sleep can be improved.
In terms of treatment of clinical depression, research has shown that exercise may be a useful alternative to antidepressant medication.
Emotional benefits could include increases in self-confidence, a decrease in negative thoughts, better coping skills and an improved drive for social interaction.
Accomplishing exercise goals, whether big or small, can boost self-confidence. When someone finishes exercising, they tend to have a more positive self-image.
Exercise also acts as a distraction from negative thoughts and worries. These thoughts can accumulate and fuel anxiety and depression.
Participating in exercise is a healthy, proactive means of dealing with depression, as opposed to drinking alcohol or not doing anything at all.
Many times there is some sort of social interaction in a fitness setting. This social interaction can positively affect a person and help fight depression symptoms.