According to the latest statistics from the World Health Organisation, there are currently 300 million people suffering with depression. That’s an increase of 18% in the past ten years.
The theme of World Health Day this year is “Depression – Let’s Talk”, highlighting the link between depression and ill health, and the treatments available to tackle it.
Depression puts a great deal of stress on the body, so it’s not surprising that many sufferers experience additional health problems such as fatigue, thyroid issues and heart conditions.
Amongst the many treatments available, exercise for depression has been said to have a significant effect on improving mood, overall wellness and motivation levels.
GP’s will often refer patients to exercise for depression, thanks to the powerful benefits a little movement can add to our health. Those studying our Exercise Referral course will be familiar with the increasing number of patients being referred to fitness professionals, to kick start exercise programmes designed to treat depression.
So, we take a look at the impact of exercise as an effective treatment, in hope that more sufferers of depression will consider exercise to help treat their condition.
A Clear Mind
The body likes to move. Trust us, it’s what keeps it performing at it’s best! Exercise increases blood flow around the body, especially to the brain. By getting in plenty of regular activity, this blood flow prevents the body from getting sluggish, prompting better focus, concentration and positive thoughts.
The Endorphin Effect
Exercise encourages the body to release the happy hormones, endorphins. The more often you exercise, the longer the effects last.
Cut The Cortisol
Regular workouts help to lower the amounts of stress hormones, Cortisol and Adrenalin within the body, making you feel more relaxed.
Exercising outdoors not only lifts the mood by providing plenty of fresh air, it also encourages the body to produce vitamin D when exposed to the bright sunlight. Vitamin D helps us to feel happier. Outdoor Fitness Coaches will often work with sufferers of depression to help lift their mood in a positive environment, away from the stuffy gym floor.
Those suffering from depression have a tendency to slouch and have poor posture. Aches and pains caused by slouching can add to our mood. Exercise will help to stretch out the muscles that have been all bunched up, and give the body a boost of energy, in turn, making you feel more alert.
Social Stress Relief
Exercising with others not only helps you to feel part of a community, but also helps you to achieve your goals. After all, nobody wants to be seen as a quitter! The feel-good hormones that come out when we’re amongst friends work as natural stress relievers, whilst the excitement of hitting your goals together will only offer a further boost.
Sometimes, we all need a little space to reflect on our feeling, thoughts and relieve our own stresses. Exercising alone is a great way to get some quiet time to assess where the stresses stem from, and how best to tackle them.
Whilst many sufferers of depression tend to seek medication as a first priority, there are clearly many benefits to overall health and well being when using exercise for depression. Whether it’s a run whilst listening to our favourite tunes, a spot of sports competition with friends or pushing ourselves in the gym, it all counts. A qualified Personal Trainer or Exercise Referral Specialist can help to coach and motivate depression sufferers towards a more positive lifestyle.