Exercise is a Key Factor to Improving Depression and Anxiety

When you have depression or anxiety, exercise often seems like the last thing you want to do. But once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference.

Exercise helps prevent and improve a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. Research on depression, anxiety and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help improve mood and reduce anxiety. Exercise may also help keep depression and anxiety from coming back once you’re feeling better.

Exercise is known to stimulate the body to produce endorphins and enkephalins, the body’s natural feel-good hormones which can make problems seem more manageable. 

Exercise affects our hippocampus — an area of the brain involved in memory, emotion regulation, and learning. Studies in other animals show convincingly that exercise leads to the creation of new hippocampal neurons (neurogenesis), with preliminary evidence suggesting this is also true in humans.

The simple act of focusing on exercise can give us a break from current concerns and damaging self-talk. Further, depending on the activity many people may benefit from getting outside, interacting with others, exchanging a friendly smile as you walk around your neighborhood or calming our minds all of which are known to improve mood and general health.

Put simply: Exercise directly affects the brain. Regular exercise increases the volume of certain brain regions – in part through better blood supply that improves neuronal health by improving the delivery of oxygen and nutrients; and through an increase in neurotrophic factors and neurohormones that support neuron signaling, growth, and connections. Other theories suggests exercise helps us normalize our sleep which is known to have protective effects on the brain.

Oliver says join him in exercising and see what happens….