The problem of depression permeates the nation as many people struggle with this debilitating condition. The numbers sadly show just how many Americans face this disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just over 10 percent of office visits to a doctor were due to depression. As recently as 2012, 7.6 percent of the population ages 12 and older suffered from depression.
As winter approaches, seasonal depression increases as shorter days and cloudy weather negatively affect many people. However, if you suffer from the blues or even clinical depression, you can take proactive measures to combat depression simply by working out. Working out can help you boost your mood in some of the following ways.
The Biology behind Depression and How Exercise Helps
Exercise can combat the negative effects of depression, releasing endorphins. However, you need to run or do an aerobic workout in order to obtain the maximum effectiveness. Endorphins not only help you feel better, but they cut down on how the body perceives pain, giving you a two-pronged benefit to help fight depression. In these two ways, they mimic the effects of morphine. For this reason, the great feeling that accompanies a hard workout or a run is called a runner’s high or euphoria. This gives you an energized and optimistic perspective of life. Furthermore, they also act as sedatives, providing an overall calming effect. However, endorphins are completely natural chemicals in the body and do not cause any type of addiction. Some scientists also compare endorphins to cannabinoids, similar to those present in marijuana that naturally provide a sense of well-being.
Long-Term Norwegian Study on the Effects of Exercise on Depression
The American Journal of Psychiatry reports that chronic stress causes anxiety and depression, which leads to inflammation in the brain and body. The nervous system is put into the warning mode, engaging the “fight or flight” response. This overactivity in the body prevents you from properly resting, keeping your body in a constant state of hyper-alertness.
The research, conducted in Norway with subjects who participated for nine to 13 years, found that people who consistently exercised for as little as an hour a week benefited, even if the activity was something as low key as taking a walk. The researchers concluded that exercise might have prevented as many as 12 percent of depression cases from starting, which they felt were significant results.
They hypothesize that not only the exercise itself helps participants, but the additional aspects aid them as well: social engagement, self-care, feeling good about working out and more. Common sense tells us that people with depression can’t drag themselves to the gym, so when those blues hit, exercise is one of the first things to go. If someone is tired or sick or even overwhelmed with life, they stop working out. However, a walk at a nearby park on the way to school or work or stopping in at your favorite women’s fitness boutique for a dance fusion or Muay Thai boot camp class might be just the boost you need to keep up with your hectic schedule. You might stay more engaged with your life and fight those blues naturally.
Types of Exercise that Reduce Clinical Depression
Almost any type of exercise will help combat depression. Just a few of the most common workouts include:
- Jogging or running
- Yoga, Pilates or a combination class, such as PiYo, or a group exercise class
- Low-impact aerobics
- High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Dancing and many more.
In short, almost all of the classes that you will find at a ladies’ fitness boutique, especially those that accelerate your heart rate, will work. In addition to those listed above, you might consider the following classes: circuit training, boot camp, cardio kickboxing, aerial fitness or any class that works with your schedule and that keeps you engaged.
A specialty women’s workout gym will have a close group of women to offer you support and encouragement during your exercise journey. The friendly faces of your instructors and other participants in fun fitness classes will provide an emotional boost to your spirits, further helping to combat the negative aspects of depression.
Before you look for a local gym for women where you can work out, check to be sure that the facility has programs to fit your schedule and the type of activities that you enjoy. Furthermore, consider your personal goals: improving your mood, greater flexibility, better muscle tone, weight loss or some combination of these.
You will want to exercise at least three times a week for 20 to 30 minutes. However, if you can exercise four or five times a week, you will see even greater benefits. Take your time when starting out. If you are in a group work out class and need to walk for a few minutes to catch your breath, don’t worry. You will gain strength and endurance over time and be able to push through to longer exercise sessions.
Make sure to schedule exercise in your day planner or electronic calendar. This will help you take your commitment more seriously. If you try a class two or three times and don’t enjoy it, that’s okay. Simply look for another class that better meets your needs. However, stay persistent as you need to keep up with a program to see continued benefits and reduce depression.
Stop by Flow Fitness Boutique Today!
Not only can you find a great workout class that is sure to meet your needs, you might enjoy connecting with the other women in the Revive Room for a refreshing, fruit-infused water or tea. You can continue to forge and strengthen relationships with others, building your sense of well-being.
If you need childcare, Flow Fitness Boutique offers this free service. We know that busy moms need the support of the community, and we provide a safe environment for your children so that you can focus on your work out without worrying about their needs. Fight the blues by getting your gear on and signing up for your favorite fitness class today!