Are you looking for exercises to help reduce anxiety and depression in your life?
Anxiety and depression are the most prevalent mental disorders in the United States. There are more than 40 million adults in the country that currently suffer from these medical conditions.
Despite the prevalence of these illnesses, exercise can be an effective way to help you cope with them and reduce their negative impact on your life.
Read on to learn the seven best exercises for anxiety and depression!
Running is a great way to clear your mind while reducing stress. These two attributes can help you reduce anxiety and depression.
While more than 550,000 people run in marathons each year, you don’t have to run that far to receive the positive benefits of this form of exercise. Running is a great way for you to break away from your daily routine while you focus on yourself.
Sometimes the day-to-day worries of life can create extra stress. These stressors can increase someone’s anxiety level and cause depression. When you run for at least 30 minutes, this forces you to do something else besides focusing on what’s stressing you out.
Yoga is a form of exercise that’s become a popular way for people to combine working out with controlled breathing.
A yoga routine combines meditation with core exercises to help you improve your mental and physical health. Another unique aspect of yoga is that you can choose to do it on your own or in a group setting.
Doing yoga with other people can help hold you accountable to your exercise program. It can also surround you with other like-minded people who may be suffering from some of the same symptoms of anxiety and depression that you feel.
This can help you establish a valuable network of support to help you through your good and bad days.
Hiking in the woods is a great way to break free from the daily grind while becoming one with nature.
Being in the woods helps to separate you from the hustle and bustle of your life and puts you in a calm and serene setting. Depending on where you live, hiking can be a challenge because of elevation gain and other weather elements.
The peace and quiet of the woods can create the perfect setting for you to unwind and enjoy nature while you exercise. Like other forms of exercise, hiking increases blood flow to your brain and muscles which can emit endorphins to help you feel good!
Weightlifting helps you improve your mental health while also maintaining your body’s physical appearance.
Sometimes depression can be caused by unwanted weight gain through the natural aging process or by a traumatic event in your life. Lifting weights will give you a physical challenge while also helping you release anger or other aggression below the surface.
This can be especially helpful after a long and stressful day at home or in the office.
5. Take Long Walks
A long walk is a great way to clear your mind while improving your physical health.
Walking 10,000 steps each day is approximately five miles and is a great goal to set for yourself each day. Sometimes, people may find excuses for why they don’t reach their walking goals each day. These often include being “too busy” with work, school, or family.
Don’t sacrifice your mental well-being by making excuses for yourself. Dedicate yourself to taking long walks so that you achieve your step-count goal each day. While 10,000 is a great milestone to reach, you may need to start off a bit lower when you first begin your walks.
While taking these walks, force yourself to think about other things besides what is causing you anxiety or making you feel depressed. By using this time to focus on other things, it can be a saving grace!
Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise and something that can be one of your best weapons against depression and anxiety symptoms. It’s also a great exercise for you to perform during the summer months in warm-weather climates where the heat can be dangerous.
Swimming forces you to breathe deeper while also using all kinds of muscles—both small and large—that you may not use on a regular basis outside of the water. It’s also a form of exercise that will help you maintain good flexibility while also not damaging your bones and joints.
Unlike running, which can take its toll on your knees and ankles because you are on a hard surface, the water in a pool creates resistance while also moving with your muscles.
Your pool exercises can be the key to combating your anxiety and depression while also improve your aerobic health!
Dancing may not be the first exercise that comes to mind when thinking of ways to fight depression and anxiety, but you can’t afford to overlook its health benefits.
There are many different forms of dance, and some of the faster-paced dances can be a great physical workout. Besides being an aerobic exercise, dancing is also a lot of fun. You can do it with a partner or in a group setting while also enjoying some of your favorite songs.
You can also challenge yourself to learn new dance styles and reward yourself for pulling off new moves. These rewards can help you gain the confidence you need to overcome the worst anxiety and depression symptoms.
Wrapping Up: Learn to Handle Your Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety and depression can cause mental and physical symptoms that can cripple the actions you take in your daily life. You may find that you aren’t having joy in normal activities or that you feel disconnected from other people that surround you.
It’s important to remember that there are millions of other people in the world suffering from this same condition. Exercise is one way for you to improve your mental health while also maintaining your physical condition and well-being.
Talking Circles Therapy & Wellness is a team of mental health professionals dedicated to helping you overcome these conditions to improve your happiness. Their team will work with you to identify your needs and propose the best treatment programs for your situation.
Contact Circles Therapy & Wellness today to learn more about their unique programs and how they can help you!
The physical benefits of exercise — improving physical condition and fighting disease — have long been established, and physicians always encourage staying physically active.
Exercise is also considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.
When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. Or, if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins — chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers — and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. About five minutes of aerobic exercise can begin to stimulate anti-anxiety effects.
Relationship of Exercise to Anxiety Disorders
Stress and anxiety are a normal part of life, but anxiety disorders, which affect 40 million adults, are the most common psychiatric illnesses in the U.S. The benefits of exercise may well extend beyond stress relief to improving anxiety and related disorders.
Psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression suggest that a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute workout. Some studies show that exercise can work quickly to elevate depressed mood in many people. Although the effects may be temporary, they demonstrate that a brisk walk or other simple activity can deliver several hours of relief, similar to taking an aspirin for a headache.
Science has also provided some evidence that physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than sedentary people. Exercise may improve mental health by helping the brain cope better with stress. In one study, researchers found that those who got regular vigorous exercise were 25 percent less likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder over the next five years.
Exercise as Part of Therapy
According to some studies, regular exercise works as well as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the effects can be long lasting. One vigorous exercise session can help alleviate symptoms for hours, and a regular schedule may significantly reduce them over time.
Although exercise has a positive effect for most people, some recent studies show that for some, exercise may not have a positive effect on anxiety or depression or may not make a strong impact on long-term mental health.
Like all forms of therapy, the effect can vary: Some people may respond positively, others may find it doesn’t improve their mood much, and some may experience only a modest short-term benefit. Nonetheless, researchers say that the beneficial effects of exercise on physical health are not in dispute, and people should be encouraged to stay physically active.
Resources – ADAA Member Experts
Read all about it: Exercise for Mood and Anxiety, Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being, by Michael W. Otto, PhD, and Jasper A.J. Smits, PhD (Oxford University Press, 2011)
Fitness Tips: Stay Healthy, Manage Stress
The most recent federal guidelines for adults recommend at least 2½ hours of moderate-intensity physical activity (e.g. brisk walking) each week, 1¼ hours of a vigorous-intensity activity (such as jogging or swimming laps), or a combination of the two.
If you have an exercise program already, keep up the good work. If not, here are tips to get you started.
- 5 X 30: Jog, walk, bike, or dance three to five times a week for 30 minutes.
- Set small daily goals and aim for daily consistency rather than perfect workouts. It’s better to walk every day for 15-20 minutes than to wait until the weekend for a three-hour fitness marathon. Lots of scientific data suggests that frequency is most important.
- Find forms of exercise that are fun or enjoyable. Extroverted people often like classes and group activities. People who are more introverted often prefer solo pursuits.
- Distract yourself with an iPod or other portable media player to download audiobooks, podcasts, or music. Many people find it’s more fun to exercise while listening to something they enjoy.
- Recruit an “exercise buddy.” It’s often easier to stick to your exercise routine when you have to stay committed to a friend, partner, or colleague.
- Be patient when you start a new exercise program. Most sedentary people require about four to eight weeks to feel coordinated and sufficiently in shape so that exercise feels easier.
Cold Weather Exercise
Learn more about exercising in cold weather.
- Dress in layers. Exercise in layers that you can remove as you start to sweat and put back on as needed.
- Protect your hands, feet, and ears. Make sure your extremities aren warm and wear gloves, socks, and headbands to prevent frostbite.
- Pay attention to weather conditions and wind chill. Rain and wind can make you even more vulnerable to the effects of the cold. If the temperature is below zero degrees and the wind chill is extreme, consider taking a break or finding an indoor activity.
- Choose appropriate gear. It gets dark earlier in the winter, so be sure to wear reflective clothing. Wear shoes with enough traction to prevent falls in snow or ice.
- Remember sunscreen. It’s just as easy to get burned in the winter as in summer, so don’t forget the SPF.
- Head into the wind. Plan your route so the wind is at your back toward the end of your workout to prevent getting a chill after working up a sweat.
- Drink plenty of fluids. It can be harder to notice the symptoms of dehydration in cold weather, so drink fluids before, during, and after a workout, even if you’re not thirsty.
- Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Know the signs and get help immediately to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.