Sunday, April 26, 2015
"Endorphins Make You Happy"- How Exercise Helps Cure Depression and Anxiety
Regular exercise helps ease depression and anxiety in a number of ways including releasing “feel-good” chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters, endorphins, and endocannabinoids. The brain also releases a chemical called brain-derived neurotrophic factor to protect neurons from the anticipated effects of prolonged stress and anxiety.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor soothes neurons to promote a sense of clarity. This is why a problem can seem more manageable after a walk or run to clear your head. At the same time, the brain releases endorphins to numb pain and facilitate peak performance. Endorphins have even been known to cause euphoria (known as the runner’s high).
Regular exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits. When you exercise, you gain self-confidence by accomplishing exercise goals and by having a healthier physique. Exercise is also a healthy distraction from everyday worries that can leave you feeling down and depressed.
Exercise gives you the opportunity to be around people with similar health-related goals and interests. With the social interaction you receive at the fitness facility, you can immediately have a positive change in your mood. Many people that suffer from depression and anxiety find that doing something positive and productive, like working out, helps to manage anxiety and depression. It is a healthy coping strategy when dealing with these intense emotions. Exercise is a productive and healthy coping strategy in lieu of drug or alcohol consumption, medication, or dwelling on how badly you feel, which can worsen symptoms.
Exercises like running, lifting weights, playing volleyball and other fitness activities are fun and inexpensive ways to get your heart pumping and your endorphins flowing. Physical activity such as gardening, washing your car, walking around the block or engaging in other less intense activities have proven to relieve stress, depression, and anxiety, as well. Any physical activity that gets you off the couch and moving can help improve your mood.
Depression (major depressive disorder). (2015, January 1). Retrieved April 20, 2015, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495
Whitney, D. (2012, October 23). Exercise: Nature’s Mood Enhancer. Retrieved April 20, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/10/24/exercise-natures-mood-enhancer/