Using Exercise And Fitness To Combat Depression

fitness-and-depressionThe Burden Of Depression

Ask anyone who experiences it and they will tell you, depression is everything it is made out to be and more. It saps the will, clouds the mind, and some days it is all you can do to just get out of bed. Even the smallest tasks appear harder, and the most minor of problems become major when viewed through the lens of depression. It is a very real, sometimes almost debilitating disorder that can leave your life in a shambles, wondering if there is any way that you will ever successfully climb out of it.

If there is some good news, it is that several recent studies, including one from the Southern Methodist University, demonstrate that exercise helps not only with weight loss and fitness, but also when it comes to battling the effects of depression and anxiety.

Before beginning any sort of workout regimen, however, it is recommended that a health professional clear the patient for physical activity. Most of the general recommendations for exercise apply to those people who may be depressed but are otherwise healthy, meaning about 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exertion.

The question becomes which one works better when it comes to weight loss and depression, and the answer is the 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. The reason?  Intense training triggers hormonal changes in the body that assist with weight loss in the form of fat reduction, while simultaneously keeping vital muscular tissue intact. Moderate level workouts fail on this level, but high intensity level training indues the most effective hormonal response. It is also sometimes referred to as burst training.

A 2002 study in the Journal of Applied Physiology reported that high intensity training programs, namely those utilizing sprints, produced up to 96 percent more human growth hormone as opposed to the slower and longer duration process known as jogging.  These growth hormones create a breakdown of fat, which of course translates as weight loss. Other notable benefits include increased energy, increased sexual desire, and improved sleep habits, all of which go a long way toward alleviating the symptoms associated with depression.

For many people, depression is directly related to their weight loss struggles, and the easiest way to begin an exercise program is through walking.  Anaeorbic walking is ideal when it comes to maximum weight loss. However, strength training should also be a part of the program, cardio alone will not be enough to garner the results that you are looking for.

The Fitness Solution

Strength training, much like cario, (walking, cycling, running) can be done intensely, and this helps to alleviate depression because it generates the feeling of accomplishment. Many people are quite amazed to learn what they are capable of following a session of high intensity interval training as opposed to long duration cardio workouts like using the elliptical machine or walking laps around your street block.

Martial arts are another form of exercise that have proven beneficial when it comes to fighting depression. By their very nature, martial arts involve bouts of intense training, and the sense of accomplishment is highlighted and accentuated when you begin learning the new skills that area a part of every martial arts program.

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Does fitness make you happier? That is up for discussion, but if you are dealing with depression, becoming physically fit is a great way to begin improving you overall situation.

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