As you may know, you need to exercise regularly to have good physical health. But did you know that exercising can also benefit your mental health? And this is especially important and relevant for mature adults. After all, exercising can help those in their golden years battle depression, an illness that many are struggling with. In fact, according to a study, as many as 6 million mature Americans are suffering from depression. So, if you are also battling depression, this is important information for you. Here is how exercising can help you with depression.
What Is Depression?
Before we dive into how exercising benefits your mental health, let’s understand what is depression first and foremost. Depression is a medical illness that affects many facets of your life. It negatively impacts the way you feel, think, and act. In simpler terms, if you feel unbearably sad all the time, often have angry outbursts, and feel uninterested in your usual activities, you might be suffering from depression. If you are in doubt whether you have depression, always seek the advice of medical professionals.
And this is where exercising can help you.
Exercising Maintains Levels of Good Brain Chemicals
Did you know that the chemicals in your brain (also scientifically known as neurotransmitters) are responsible for how you feel physically and mentally? And when you have insufficient chemicals in your brain, you will feel different. For instance, when you have low levels of dopamine (also known as the happy hormone), you will feel unhappy. And what happens when you exercise? It stimulates the production of chemicals in your brains, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, endorphins, and serotonin.
Hence, when you exercise, you will feel less sad from the depression due to the increase in dopamine chemicals in your brain. Coupled with the feel-good chemicals – endorphins, you will feel happier just by exercising. In addition, serotonin also helps you to feel more relaxed and calm. What about the benefits of norepinephrine then? Due to the norepinephrine released from exercising, you will feel less stressed. In fact, high levels of norepinephrine can also lead to euphoria feelings. Essentially, exercising encourages your brain to rewire itself in a positive way, hence improving your overall mental well-being significantly.
Exercising Works Better than Anti-depressants
Have you heard about anti-depressants before? Anti-depressants are medicine that is commonly prescribed to help one overcome depression. But did you know that exercising may be better than anti-depressants? According to a recent study by the Duke University Medical Center, 30 minutes of exercise three times a week may help treat depression better than consuming medicines for depression.
Did you also know that almost one-third of those who have depression do not respond to anti-depressants? Hence, exercising is a great low-cost alternative that works for almost everyone. In addition, by switching to exercising instead, you no longer have to worry about the negative side effects of anti-depressants. Instead, you can look forward to the positive side effects on both your physical and mental health.