Exercise is a scientifically proven mood booster that can help combat depression and anxiety. It can also relieve stress, improve memory, help you sleep better, and improve your overall mood. Even moderate amounts of exercise can make a real difference in your mental health. Exercise gives us structure, purpose, energy, and motivation.
It's also effective at altering the way we process and respond to our emotions, reduces the amount we overthink, and develops emotional resilience to stress. This helps reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety, which causes us to behave differently, increases our self-esteem and reduces our feelings of loneliness by being more sociable. Research shows that people who exercise regularly have better mental health and emotional well-being, and lower rates of mental illness. An interesting study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggested that 12% of new cases of depression could be prevented if the entire population exercised for at least one hour a week.
If depression has already been diagnosed, exercise has also been found to be an effective way to prevent and reduce symptoms of severe and mild forms. In a study led by Duke University, researchers found that exercise is as effective as taking antidepressants, since it reduces depressive symptoms in some people by up to 70%. Anxiety and depression are often experienced side by side, and exercise has been found to be beneficial for anxiety as well. A meta-analysis of 13 different studies highlighted that people who exercise a lot are better protected against anxiety symptoms than those who don't.
Exercise can also help prevent depressive periods from starting. Exercise provides an opportunity to share an experience with another person, which can help you combat feelings of loneliness or isolation. Many gyms offer classes specifically for seniors, and these can be a great place to meet people. Even if you don't attend a group fitness class, you can go for a walk or walk with a friend or family member.
The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you focus and feel mentally prepared for the tasks at hand. A recent study in the United Kingdom found that people who reduce their exercise routines to one or two sessions over the weekend get almost as many health benefits as those who exercise more frequently. Exercise may be especially important for the mental health of older people, as older people may be more vulnerable to stress, anxiety, depression, and other emotional challenges. If you've been struggling with mental health symptoms for a long time, you should seek professional support.
When you're faced with mental or emotional challenges in life, exercise can help you build resilience and cope with them in a healthy way, rather than resorting to alcohol, drugs, or other negative behaviors that ultimately only worsen your symptoms. If regular exercise isn't yet part of your routine, you might be wondering how much you should do to improve your mental health. Everyone knows that exercise is good for physical health, but the mental health benefits of exercise aren't as well known. Exercise is a powerful tool to treat mental health problems, improve your energy and attitude, and get more out of life.
It's important to look for opportunities to socialize and make physical activity a priority for your mental well-being.