Depression and Exercise a Flipped Tie-up
Posted By Rupa Jaiswal
Posted on Oct 19, 2021
I did not want to wake up, I was having much better time asleep, Isn't it sad, to feel alone even when you
are surrounded by all the peeps? This feeling is too much to bear, It is waking me up into a nightmare
Sadness is something we all experience, but when intense sadness including feeling hopeless, helpless,
worthless, the feeling which keeps you away from living is experienced, then it may be more than just
sadness. This condition is "Depressive Disorder" or "clinical depression" and is a real disease. People
often assume depression as a sign of person's weakness or a character flaw, which is not. No one can
snap out of clinical depression, but appropriate treatment can help. India is one among the most
depressed countries in the world, states WHO. About 6.5% of Indian population suffer from some form
of depression, with no rural-urban differences, states National Care of Medical Health (NCMH)
People with depression often tend to visit Psychiatrists, they think that the only solution to fight or
manage depression is starting a therapy and taking anti-depressants. But most people are unaware
of the fact that depression may be handled just by exercising! Yes, Exercise! It not only helps to keep
you fit physically, but also mentally! Anti-depressants can have side effects, whereas exercise can treat
mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressants and that too without any side-effects
What is the link between Depression and Exercise?
There are many benefits of physical exercises which are well established in the cardiovascular
system and are becoming clear in a range of disorders and diseases (blood sugar,kidneys, osteoporosis, etc.).
High intensity exercise releases "Endorphin", a chemical which triggers positive feeling in the
body. But for most of the individuals, the value is in low intensity exercise, which induces
release of proteins called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factors (BDNF), which helps nerve cells to
grow and make new connections Neuroscientists have noticed that people suffering from Depression
have smaller Hippocampus (region in the brain that helps to regulate mood). To support nerve cell
growth in the hippocampus, and to improve nerve cell connections, exercise is essential which helps
to relieve stress.
What are the mental and emotional benefits of exercise?
The benefits of exercise are as below:
Exercise can help the sufferer to cope in a healthy way, if the individual has faced mental or
emotional challenges in life. Instead of consuming alcohol, drugs, or other negative behaviors,
regular exercise can help to improve the immune system and reduce the impact of stress.
Both insomnia and depression go hand in hand. 15% of depressed people sleep too much,
whereas 80% have trouble falling asleep. But even short period of exercise can help regulate
sleep patterns. Relaxing exercises like yoga, gentle stretching can help promote better sleep.
Sharper Memory and Thinking
As discussed earlier,endorphin promotes positive feeling in body and improves nerve cell
connections Endorphin also helps you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand
Boosts Self Esteem
When exercise becomes a habit, it can foster self worth and make an individual feel
strong and powerful.
Exercise increases Cardiac Risk Markers Test rate, which eventually makes an individual feel energized and
How does exercise increase mood?
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Imagine its time for sunrise. The sky is violet, and slowly the sky changes itself into orange
There the sun comes out slowly, piercing its rays through the clouds, and then there is sweet
chirping of birds, the cold breeze hits the leaves of trees making them rustle, and there is pin
drop silence, no honking of cars, nothing, only Nature! Isn't it wonderful just to imagine this?
Then how about a walk accompanied by the Nature? Won't that boost anyone's mood?
Exercise is not only about high intensity workout, but yoga, walking, stretching can also revive
the mind. The link between mood and exercise is quite strong. Usually 5 minutes of moderate
exercise is enough to uplift your mood and can also alleviate long-term depression. Some evidence
from population based studies reveal that active people are less depressed than physically inactive
people. So instead of just sitting and taking antidepressants, its better to go out, take a walk, do
some exercises, and stay healthy mentally
How do you overcome mental health obstacles when exercising?
Recovering from depression can be difficult as it drains energy, hope, and drive, making it more
difficult to take steps which can help to make an individual feel better. A five minute walk can
lower depression. Even if you have no experience in exercising, start slow with low impact
movements for few minutes each day. The key is to start small and grow from there.
Be willing to be a beginner every morning!