Can exercise help you avoid depression?
The answer is yes, according to research. These studies on depression, anxiety and exercise have shown that the physical and psychological benefits of exercise can help reduce anxiety, depression and improve mood.
The modern world leads to stress and depression is more and more common. There are many factors that influence a person’s chances of experiencing depression, including one’s genes. There are always going to be certain people and situations where medication may be necessary for combating depression.
Increasingly, mental health experts are looking for ways to treat depression without costly prescription medication. There is a greater need for a prevention strategy today, for ways to fend off depression from the start. Physical activity is being recognized as an effective tool for treating and preventing depression. Over 26 years’ worth of scientific research concludes that even moderate levels of physical activity—like walking for 20-30 minutes a day—can ward off depression in people of all ages.
This means that, if you’re currently active, you should sustain it. If you’re not physically active, you should start the habit.
In the long run, people stick to a workout regimen, not because of willpower, but because they realize how much better they feel after a workout! Our bodies and minds are programmed to feel good when we work out. This is a biological design necessary for our survival. Everything humans need to survive—food, water, sleep, social connections, sexual contact, breathing deeply, and physically working our bodies and sweating—are all designed to release rewarding neurochemicals that leave us feeling good.
Swedish researchers have demonstrated how changes in muscles makes them perform similar functions to the liver or kidneys by cleaning up the blood. The protein PGC-1α1 increases in skeletal muscle with exercise, and this leads to higher levels of an enzyme called KAT. This enzyme purges the body of harmful substances.
Promoting physical activity is a valuable public mental health strategy too, reducing the risk of developing depression and its personal, social, and economic repercussions. The conclusion is that moderate exercise can replace expensive medications which also have negative side effects.