Running from your problems may sound counter intuitive. However, for the 264 million people worldwide dealing with depression running may be the best prescription. There are numerous studies that have found that for individuals dealing with mild to moderate anxiety or depression exercise is as effective as medications. So if you exercise for your well-being you will get both physical and emotional benefits.
Reasons to exercise for well-being:
- Relief from depression
- Improved sleep quality
- Boost to energy levels
- Reduced symptoms of anxiety
- Reduced Stress
What does exercise do to my brain?
Exercise impacts our mental well-being both directly and indirectly.
- Produces Serotonin – key to regulating anxiety, depression and sleep
- Increases Dopamine – key to feeling happy and controls our reward system which encourages us to repeat behaviors
- Produces Norepinephrine – key to providing energy to fight fatigue
- Reduction in Cortisol – elevated levels are linked to experiencing higher stress
- Contributes to growth of new nerves and connection pathways in the brain
How much exercise do I need to do?
For those of you who may be stressed and time poor here are some guidelines:
- 45 minutes of moderate intensity exercise at least 3 times per week. This amount has been found to significantly improve anxiety and depression.
- 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly or 75 minutes vigorous-intensity. The World Health Organization (WHO) set this as a baseline level of activity for mental well-being. Though they suggest an extra 300 minutes weekly for added benefits.
- 2 days per week should include muscle-strengthening activities. This is also the minimum recommendation from the WHO.
This is a great time of year to start developing some good exercise habits. Many people may have lighter work commitments around the holidays. So consider trying some new activities or simply dust off your running shoes and head to the park.