Exercise and depression

Exercise and depression

Written by: Emma Anius

Depression is a state of mental health that affects about 121 million people worldwide, with less than 25% of those suffering receiving effective treatment.

It has been described by the World Health Organization (WHO) as ‘a common mental disorder that presents with depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration.’

There are pharmacological treatments that help relieve the depressive symptoms; those include antidepressant medications and structured forms of psychotherapy, which have shown to be effective for 60-80 percent of those suffering.  These treatments however are quite costly; exercise

is another form of treatment that gives successful results but without the cost.  Research has shown that exercise is an effective but often underused treatment for mild to moderate depression.  It has been shown to be just as effective as psychotherapy for treating mild to moderate depression. Therapists also reported that patients who exercise regularly simply feel better and are less likely to overeat or abuse alcohol and drugs- other common symptoms of depression.

Research has shown that when you partake in regular physical activity this may increase levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical in the body that is responsible for your mood, sleep, libido, appetite and other functions, and has been linked to depression.

Exercise has also been said to release an increased amount of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain with ‘mood- lifting’ properties.  Endorphins give the body what is known as the ‘runners high’; they are the brain’s natural occurring opiates and are related to decreased pain perception and an increased sense of well-being. It’s the increase of endorphins that results in mood changes, such as feelings of euphoria during or after exercise.

Physical activity also helps alleviate depression symptoms by counteracting the feelings of hopelessness, loss of pleasure and low self-esteem.  Engaging in a sport or form of activity allows you to participate in a group setting and enjoy social cohesion, which gives you a sense of meaning, self-worth, and acceptance it also helps improve the way you perceive your physical condition, athletic abilities and body image.

There is not a specific type of exercise that helps alleviate feelings of depression more than others. Studies have shown that both aerobic and anaerobic exercise have anti-depressive effects. So whether it’s dancing, gardening, running, tennis, swimming, yoga or just simply walking you enjoy you will receive the benefits they bring.  Although studies have shown that doing more energetic forms of activity such as running, playing squash or cycling is said to show mood improvements quicker than less energetic sports.

As with anything, the benefits that occur will only last as long as you exercise; research has shown that exercising for 12 weeks can significantly reduce symptoms of depression amongst people who are inactive and experiencing mild to moderate depression.  You should aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day three to five days a week- this has been shown to significantly improve depressions symptoms.

Looking after your body is the key to healthy living.

  If you have no time to exercise or don’t know where to begin:


Adductor lift x 15, squat jumps x 10, burpes x 10, side lunge x 10, lunge x 15


Adductor lift x 25, squat jumps x 15, burpes x 15, side lunge x 15, lunge x 20


Note: Emma Anius is a Personal Trainer for Cyan Fitness promoting a ‘healthy life and a better you.’

Email: emma@cyanfitness.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/cyanfitnes


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