Feeling Anxious or Depressed? Get Moving! Exercise has been proven to boost your mood, decrease levels of stress and help ensure a better night’s sleep. Exercise can also play an important role in alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Much like commonly prescribed anti-depressants and therapy, exercise can provide an immediate improvement in mood and long-term relief of symptoms of the mood disorders.
As little as 20 minutes of exercise a day can go a long way to reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
People are more likely to make exercise a regular part of their daily routine than anti depressants or therapy. People have been known to get “hooked” on exercise and continue with the routine for the long-term. The same cannot be said for therapy or anti-depressants which people may only use temporarily to provide relief from their symptoms.
Integrating Exercise into Your Day
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of anxiety or depression, you should try to incorporate some type of physical activity into your daily routine. Even if you are not the most athletic person and dread the idea of going to the gym, there are ways to get moving that can be easily made part of your day:
• Walk the dog. If you have one, take your dog for a daily walk or two around the neighborhood or to the local dog park.
• Clean your house. You may not think that vacuuming, dusting or doing laundry counts as exercise, but it does get you moving and burning calories. You’ll also get a mood boost from getting some chores done and having a more organized and cleaner living space.
• Ditch your car to run errands. Instead of driving around town to get your errands completed, walk or ride your bike to the grocery store, dry cleaners or anywhere else local. This is a great way to incorporate exercise into your life without making it feel like a chore.
• Join a team. Depending on where you live, there are bound to be opportunities to join a team sport. Kickball, soccer, volleyball and softball provide chances for you to get some physical activity while meeting new people with similar interests, which can also help to improve your mood.
What to Do When Exercise Isn’t Enough
Though exercise on its own may be helpful for reducing symptoms of anxiety or depression, it is unlikely to cure your mood disorder. Exercise is most effective when used along with therapy or anti-depressants, and should be used as part of a comprehensive treatment for anxiety or depression.
If your attempts at getting some physical activity haven’t improved your mood, it may be necessary for you to try therapy through a therapist who specializes in mood disorders. A therapist can help you work through your anxiety or depression and can prescribe anti-depressants.
If your depression or anxiety is significantly interfering with your daily routines, or is combined with a co-occurring disorder such as substance abuse or an eating disorder, it may be necessary to spend time at a residential treatment facility for anxiety and depression.