How Exercise Can Help People Suffering From Depression?
According to Beyond Blue, about 1 in 7 Australians will suffer from depression during their lifetime. And while medication and therapy are common treatments, exercise is also a great way to help lessen the symptoms of depression. In fact, studies have shown that regular exercise can be just as effective as medication in treating depression.
That’s where trained accredited exercise physiologists come in. We can develop goal-oriented programs that are specifically tailored to help people suffering from depression. By incorporating exercises that focus on strength, cardiorespiratory fitness, mobility and flexibility, we may help people not only improve their physical health but also their mental health.
The Relationship Between Exercise and Depression
Depression is a complex mental illness, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for treatment. However, exercise has been shown to be an effective way to help lessen the symptoms of depression. Depression often causes a person to feel fatigue and low energy, making it difficult to motivate oneself to exercise. However, studies have shown that even a moderate amount of exercise can help to increase energy levels and lift mood. Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects, and it also helps to improve sleep quality. In addition, exercise can help to reduce stress levels, another common symptom of depression. For people struggling with depression, starting a simple exercise routine can be an important step in managing their condition.
One study found that women with depression who underwent aerobic exercise reported a decrease in fatigue, tension, confusion, irritability, and anger compared to those who did not exercise. They also had an increase in vigor and overall feelings of well-being.
Another study found that patients who participated in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise reported significant improvements in depressive symptoms compared to those who did not exercise. The improvements were maintained at follow-up appointments 3 and 6 months later.
So, how does exercise help ease the symptoms of depression? It’s thought that when we exercise, our bodies release endorphins—chemicals that have mood-boosting properties. These endorphins interact with receptors in the brain that reduce our perception of pain. In other words, they can help us feel better both physically and mentally.
Exercise physiologists have long been interested in the relationship between pain receptors and endorphins. Endorphins are endogenous opioid peptides that are released in response to pain or stress. They bind to opioid receptors in the brain and produce a sense of well-being or euphoria. Exercise has been shown to increase endorphin levels, which may explain why it is often recommended as a treatment for depression. However, the mechanism by which endorphins exert their effects is not fully understood. Some scientists believe that endorphins interact with pain receptors to reduce the perception of pain. Other’s believe that endorphins modulate the release of other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin. The exact mechanism by which endorphins produce their effects is still being investigated. However, there is evidence that endorphins play an important role in mood regulation and pain management.
In addition, exercising regularly can help improve sleep quality—something that is often impaired in people suffering from depression. This is important because poor sleep can worsen mood and make it more difficult to manage depressive symptoms. Conversely, getting enough quality sleep can help improve mood and make it easier to function during the day.
How Exercise Physiology may help with Depression
Exercise Physiologists specialize in using exercise as a treatment for medical conditions. Exercise Physiologists create individualised programs that are based on a person’s specific needs and goals. This means that the program will be different for each person, as each person’s situation is unique. Exercise Physiologists work with people to help them overcome their barriers to exercise and to motivate them to stick with their program. In doing so, they can help people to improve their physical and mental health. Exercise Physiology is a growing field, and Exercise Physiologists are playing an increasingly important role in the treatment of depression.
As we have discussed, it is simple, exercise has been proven to help symptoms of depression. Unfortunately starting an exercise program can be incredibly daunting or tough for many people.
If you’re struggling with depression, talk to your doctor or a trained accredited exercised physiologist about ways you can incorporate exercise into your treatment plan.
Our Exercise Physiologists can work with your treatment team to help you try and reduce your depressive symptoms.