Exercise Improves Depression
The idea that regular exercise can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety has been around for thousands of years. If you suffer from major depression, exercise probably won't be the only treatment you'll need, but it will help along with your treatment plan. Working out can enhance the benefits of antidepressant medications, and even produce similar results. But while medication and psychotherapy can take weeks to work, you can start feeling the positive effects of exercise right away.
Research shows that exercise:
Positively effects the same neurotransmitters that antidepressant medications target
Produces feel-good brain chemicals called "endorphins," which promote the sense of well-being and satisfaction
Releases tension in muscles that contributes to depression-related soreness and insomnia
Reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, relieving feelings of anxiety and agitation
Raises body temperature, which appears to have calming effects
Exercise can also promote the following psychological and emotional changes:
Distraction. Exercise compels you to focus on something besides your troubles for a little while, helping you find pleasure.
Confidence. By meeting a goal, like a small amount of exercise each day, you can begin to rebuild confidence and self-esteem.
Self-respect. Taking the time to do something positive to help yourself every day can help you reconnect with the part of you that wants to be healthy and productive.