How Exercise Helps Improve Your Mood and Decrease Depressive Symptoms

Finding the energy to get up and move your body can be a daunting task, but exercise is one of the best ways to improve your mood and decrease depressive symptoms.

You don’t have to like working out to reap the benefits, either. Some people thrive off of running three miles a day, but most people don’t have the time or patience for that kind of activity. 

Going for a simple stroll around the block or indulging in some spring cleaning is more than enough. If you’re ready to feel like yourself again, this blog post will tell you all about the importance of staying active for mental clarity.

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Having the Right Mindset About Exercise

Society often has a lot to say about our bodies, but how often do you see the media talk about the abundance of health benefits exercise can offer? That rush of adrenaline you feel during aerobic exercise, or cardio, is capable of so much more than motivating you to lose weight. 

Yes, contrary to common belief, you can take care of your body without wanting to change its appearance. Exercise should not be synonymous with crash diets and rapid weight loss. Exercise should be known as a way to become more in tune with your body – inside and out. 

Depression has a way of making the most routine tasks seem impossible, from making your bed to brushing your teeth. Having the right mindset before hopping into a workout will help push you to keep going, even if it’s something as simple as going for a quick walk.

How Exercise Helps Your Brain and Improves Mood

Your brain is the most powerful computer on the planet, but similar to an actual computer, sometimes things show up that shouldn’t be there. Intrusive thoughts, extreme irritability, and decreased pleasure are a few symptoms of depression that can creep into your head and cause chaos.

Talking to a licensed therapist is a great place to start, but everyone doesn’t have access to a therapist for a variety of reasons. Thankfully, you can exercise in the safety of your home at little to no cost! 

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Lowers Blood Pressure

One of the highest risk factors of high blood pressure is lack of activity, so it’s important to stay active for optimal health. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. 

That’s only 21 minutes a day! Who says you have to spend hours at the gym every day? Experiment with different workouts and find what works best for you. Whether you choose yoga, pilates, or the elliptical, doing what you enjoy is the best way to stick to a proper exercise routine.

Improves Cholesterol Levels

There’s good (HDL) cholesterol and there’s bad (LDL) cholesterol. High levels of bad cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and clogged arteries.

Exercise helps balance the cholesterol in your body by increasing the good cholesterol levels and decreasing the bad cholesterol levels.

Reduces Stress

When you feel good on the inside, you will most likely feel good on the outside as well. The mind and body are intrinsically connected, which means they have a strong association with one another.

According to Harvard Medical School, exercise has been successfully used to treat clinical depression and anxiety. Exercise stimulates the production of “happy” endorphins and decreases the presence of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. 

Even though these stress hormones are good in moderation, excessive levels of these hormones are a major contributing factor to mood disorders and other mental health problems.

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How to Start a Regular Exercise Routine

If you truly want to decrease depressive symptoms, the last thing you want to do is jump into things at full throttle. While this may work for some people, this isn’t practical for most of us. This is a quick way to burn out and, possibly, worsen your depressed mood.

You should take things at a snail’s pace if you want to have a successful workout routine. You only need 20 minutes of moderate activity a day, but there’s nothing wrong with starting with 10 minutes of light activity. 

Set small, achievable goals for yourself. Commit to going for a walk during your lunch break or taking a dance class once a week. Have fun and increase the duration of your workouts as you become more comfortable. 

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Twitter @ngozitherapy if you want to stay connected!

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Ngozi Ojukwu

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