According to the Mayoclinic, when you have depression or anxiety, exercise often seems like the last thing you want to do. But once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference.
Exercise helps prevent and improve a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. Research on depression, anxiety and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help improve mood and reduce anxiety.
The links between depression, anxiety and exercise aren't entirely clear — but working out and other forms of physical activity can definitely ease symptoms of depression or anxiety and make you feel better.
How does exercise help depression and anxiety?
Regular exercise may help ease depression and anxiety by:
- Releasing feel-good endorphins, natural cannabis-like brain chemicals (endogenous cannabinoids) and other natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being
- Taking your mind off worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety
Regular exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits, too. It can help you:
- Gain confidence. Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence. Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.
- Get more social interaction. Exercise and physical activity may give you the chance to meet or socialize with others. Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood.
- Cope in a healthy way. Doing something positive to manage depression or anxiety is a healthy coping strategy. Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, dwelling on how you feel, or hoping depression or anxiety will go away on its own can lead to worsening symptoms.
If you or someone you know are feeling emotionally distressed, the following organisations offer advice and support.
Information from www.bbc.co.uk
Samaritans is available 24 hours a day for anyone struggling to cope and provide a safe place to talk where calls are completely confidential.
Phone: 116 123
Email: [email protected]
HOPELineUK offer support, practical advice and information to young people considering suicide and can also offer help and advice if you’re concerned about someone you know.
Phone: 0800 068 41 41
CALM, the campaign against living miserably aims to prevent male suicide in the UK and offers anonymous, confidential listening, information and signposting.
Phone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily 5pm-midnight)
Lifeline provides support to people suffering distress or despair in Northern Ireland, regardless of age or district.
Phone: 0808 808 8000 (24 hours a day)
Community Advice & Listening Line
Community Advice & Listening Line offers emotional support and information on mental health and related matters to people in Wales.
Phone: 0800 132 737 (24/7) or text "help" to 81066
Breathing Space offers a confidential phone and web based service for people in Scotland experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety.
Phone: 0800 83 85 87 (Mon-Thu 6pm-2am, weekends 24 hours).
A BSL service is also available via the website.