Exercise as a Treatment for Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety, Depression, Mental Fitness

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We all know that exercise releases “feel good” chemicals called endorphins.  These blissful little guys can leave you feeling happy and peaceful for hours after the exercise.  New research shows that the benefits of exercise go further than making us healthier and happier.  Exercise can help you fight off feelings of anxiety and depression.

Jasper Smits, one of the researchers and director of the Anxiety Research and Treatment Program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, explains, “Individuals who exercise report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, and lower levels of stress and anger. Exercise appears to affect, like an antidepressant, particular neurotransmitter systems in the brain, and it helps patients with depression re-establish positive behaviors. For patients with anxiety disorders, exercise reduces their fears of fear and related bodily sensations such as a racing heart and rapid breathing.

As author Steve Pavilanis, A Life Less Anxious, points out, exercise can also help you develop more self-confidence. “Once you’ve established a regular routine you’ll feel stronger and more relaxed both mentally and physically. The fact that you’ll look good at the beach this summer is just the icing on the cake!”

So what are you waiting for?  Get outside (or in an wide open room) and get moving. You’ll love how it makes you feel.

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3 comments… add one
  • Joi – I really enjoy your posts, this one in particular. I suffer from serious ADHD and found that with consistent exercise and better nutrition, I am able to better manage my adhd. One thing i was able to do is lower my dosage of the medication I have been taking and even skipping it on weekends.

  • TurboFire, Thanks so much for the kind words! I’m so glad to hear about your success – good for you. Most people don’t realize how much ADHD affects an individual. It’s like any medical situation that requires medication (diabetes, thyroid disease, allergies, asthma…) – it’s something people are born with and have to be treated for. With my asthma, there are certain precautions I have to take to feel my best – just as someone with ADHD (their own particular challenge) has to take certain precautions.

    It’s wonderful that you’ve struck what appears to be a wonderful balance and are taking control of your life. I wish that everyone else approached ADHD with the same determination and courage. So many just give in and let it win. It’d be like someone with Diabetes not taking their insulin!

    Thanks again and best of luck! – Joi

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