Can your emotional problems really be solved by a few workout sessions at the gym? Hmm... maybe not, however, incorporating a regular routine of any exercise program actually could help. According to an appraisal of studies that go back to the early 1980s, it has been found that exercising regularly can actually help in boosting the mood of people suffering from moderate to mild depression.
Studies Proving the Link Between Exercise and Mood
For instance, according to one 16-week study, 150 women and men suffering from depression were divided into three groups. While one group undertook aerobic exercises, the second took the drug sertraline, which is a commonly prescribed antidepressant, and the third group did both, took the drug as well as exercised. At the end of the 16 weeks, it was found that depression had been alleviated in all the three groups. Around 60 percent to 70 percent of the people in each of the three groups could no longer be categorized as suffering from major depression.
This is indicative of the fact that for people who want or need to stop using antidepressant medications, a regular routine could be an acceptable substitute. Although the researchers also pointed out that it was the group that took the antidepressants that had the swiftest of responses, and that it is often very hard to motivate yourself to exercise if you are depressed.
However, another study that was made as a follow-up found that the mood enhancing effects of exercising lasted much longer than that derived from antidepressant drugs. It was found that after the completion of the study, those people who continued to exercise regularly, irrespective of whatever treatment they were originally on, had fewer episodes of relapsing into depression.
Link Between Weight and Exercise Duration
According to still another study, it was found that brisk walking, five times in a week, lasting for 35 minutes per day, or brisk walking, three times in a week, for 60 minutes per day, had a considerable influence on the symptoms of moderate to mild forms of depression. Whereas, stretching exercises done thrice a week, or brisk walking for just 15 minutes per day, five times in a week, did not seem to have as much beneficial effects on the mood. These lengths of exercising were calculated according to a person who weighs around 150 pounds. In case your weight is more than that, the duration has to be longer, and conversely, if your weight is less than 150 pounds, you can feel the benefits by exercising for shorter lengths of time.
How does Exercise Work to Relieve Depression
Experts have known for several years now that exercise helps to boost the effects of endorphins, which are neurochemicals that occur naturally in the brain, which have analgesic properties. In other words, endorphins help in reducing the perception of pain while also improving the natural immunity of the body. And, likewise, it is thought that they may also help in improving the mood. According to another hypothesis, exercise may help in stimulating norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that may improve the mood directly.
Apart from boosting your mood, a regimen of regular exercise provides various other beneficial effects to your health like safeguarding you against cancer and heart disease, reducing blood pressure, and enhancing your self-confidence. Although it is not clear exactly how intensely or often exercises need to be done in order to alleviate depression, but the general advice according to experts is to exercise at moderate intensity, such as a brisk walk, from ½ an hour to 1 hour, seven days in a week.