5 reasons why ANY exercise can be as effective as antidepressants
Managing our emotional stress is as important as eating a nutritious meal. A healthy body is a mirror of a peaceful mind and vice versa.
In recent decades the first common response to depression was to seek medication. However, now there are some really insightful studies to show that how much a stagnant body contributes towards depression, which is ultimately a stagnant mind.
Chunyi Lin, Founder of Spring Forest Qi Gong teaches that energy needs to move. Stagnant water will attract mosquitos and when our own internal energy lacks movement, we also attract thoughts that outstay their welcome.
Here are 5 reasons why ANY exercise will help a person shift out of depression:
1. We have an innate antidepressant – our brain can produce the same chemicals
Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and it releases endorphins, which is our innate antidepressant. Lots of other feel good chemicals are also released such as serotonin.
2. We are designed to move immediately after a trauma
Our fight or flight response is meant to be followed by an immediate rush of physical movement. This is observed in animals after they experience trauma. The first action they take is to shake it out of their system. Human beings are the only species who do not have this as an immediate reaction.
All of this excess adrenaline needs to be moved out of the body otherwise it stays there it keeps on firing fight or flight signals. Movement calms the entire nervous system because it allows the adrenaline to be expressed out of the body so that a calm state can resume.
3. The fastest way to calm the stress response is to move
The fastest way to calm the stress response in the body is to move. It can be absolutely anything that gets you moving and even a short burst of exercise will start to break down excessive stress hormones.
4. You can do ANY type of exercise
Whether you jump on a rebounder or just jog on the spot, any type of movement will suffice. Getting outside for a brisk walk during your lunch hour will give you the added benefit of more Vitamin D which has also been associated with helping to ease depression.
“After 12 weeks, the researchers found that patients who worked out for half an hour, three to five times a week reported half the symptoms of depression that they had before the program began.” Dr. Madhukar H. Trivedi of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
5. Sweat it out
Ideally, you want to break a sweat and allow the body to release any excess stress hormones. Sweating releases toxins and has been reported to enhance mood. Saunas are very popular for stress management and the sweat effect is responsible for improving mood and sleep. So sweating during exercise has multiple benefits including helping you to become addicted to the rush of endorphins that make you feel happy afterwards.
“In people who are depressed, neuroscientists have noticed that the hippocampus in the brain—the region that helps regulate mood—is smaller. Exercise supports nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, improving nerve cell connections, which helps relieve depression,” explains Dr. Miller.
It’s unclear how long you need to exercise, or how intensely, before nerve cell improvement begins alleviating depression symptoms. You should begin to feel better a few weeks after you begin exercising. But this is a long-term treatment, not a one-time fix. “Pick something you can sustain over time,” advises Dr. Miller. “The key is to make it something you like and something that you’ll want to keep doing.”