Exercise really does help mediate depression.
How many studies does it take to convince you that moderate exercise will make you happier?!
If you need one more reason to start being more physically active, professors from the University of Toronto compiled and analysed over 26 years’ worth of scientific research, concluding that even moderate levels of physical activity—like walking for 20-30 minutes a day—can ward off depression in people of all ages.
If exercise is something you associate with being happy and feeling good, you will be more likely to seek it out and make physical activity a part of your daily routine.
The Rewards of Exercise
Over the long run, people don’t stick to a workout regimen because of superhuman willpower—they stick with it because they realise how much better they feel after a workout. Sweat = Bliss. This is a universal neurobiological fact. Breaking a sweat is a hedonic pursuit.
Our bodies and minds are hardwired to feel good when we work out. This is a generous biological design but also necessary for our survival. Everything humans need to survive—food, water, sleep, social connections, sexual contact, breathing deeply, and physically working our bodies (sweating)—are all designed to release a cascade of rewarding neuro-chemicals that send us coming back for more.
On the flip side, not being physically active can cause your body and mind to short-circuit. This is one of the biggest “future shocks” of living in a digital age: humans are not biologically wired to be isolated in cubicles or sedentary behind computer screens.
A Natural Treatment for Depression
Given the high prevalence of depression in the modern world, more research is needed to identify all the factors that cause and might prevent depression. Increasingly, physical activity is being recognised as an effective tool for treating and preventing depression.
The majority of studies examining exercise and depression provide consistent evidence that physical activity boosts happiness and prevents future depressive episodes. There is growing evidence that even very moderate levels of physical activity (eg walking 20-30 minutes a day, which adds up to just over two hours per week) can prevent future depression.
So what are you waiting for?
Author: Dr David Wells, B Psych (Hons), Dip Prof Couns, D Psych (Clin Geropsychology).
David is a Clinical Psychologist, with a keen interest in couples counselling. He strives to provide a safe environment for his clients to explore their issues and, with assistance, develop new techniques which will help them change their unproductive behaviours. The aim is to have a happier life that assists people reach their relationship, personal and life goals.
Dr David Wells is currently on extended leave. If you would like to book with an alternative clinician with similar expertise, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.