Most of us know that when we exercise we “feel better”. Sleep quality improves, we have more energy, we feel more glow-y. But glow-y isn’t a real word. I made it up just now because the way we feel when we are active is hard to define. What is much more tangible is the fact that exercise has actually been proven to elevate mood, reduce depression and anxiety.
Researchers found that the more time an individual is physically active, the less depression they tend to report (Goodwin, 2003). This notion is supported by other researchers who found that individuals who attended regular exercise classes exhibited greater reduction in depressive symptoms than individuals who merely attended health education seminars (Mather, Rodriguez, Guthrie, McHarg, Reid & McMurdo, 2002).
Although some researchers have indicated that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise leads to significantly greater reduction in depressive symptoms than flexibility training or lower-intensity aerobic exercise, others have found that aerobic exercise at 70-80% of maximal intensity was as effective as pharmacotherapy in treating mild depressive symptoms.
It is also a well-documented fact that people that participate in aerobic exercise programs show a decrease in general anxiety symptoms… and those participating in higher-intensity aerobics have less fear and hypervigilance for their own anxiety-related symptoms, which are often seen as precursors to a panic attack (Teta & Teta, 2008).
…And for those of you that may not feel “ready” for high-intensity activities, consider yoga, which is also known to decrease anxiety and increase feelings of well-being.
So while I still don’t have an articulate definition for the adjective glow-y, I know that I’m describing a real phenomenon: exercise can make us feel good. If your medical provider has given you the go-ahead, throw on a snazzy headband and get moving. There is a form of exercise out there for everyone and the benefits are pretty great. If you’ve tried to stick to a regimen and have a history of falling off the bandwagon—no worries. You can learn the mental skills you need to make exercise a habit that sticks. At Pamper Your Mind, we are dedicated to helping you create the new habits that you need to thrive. We’d be delighted to help you see the increase in wellness that so many others have experienced through creating healthier habits.
By: Dr. Susana Marikle
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Mather, A.S., Rodriguez, C., Guthrie, M.F., McHarg, A.M., Reid, I.C., McMurdo, M.E. (2002). Effects of exercise on depressive symptoms in older adults with poorly responsive depressive disorder: Randomized controlled trial. British Journal of Psychiatry, 180, 411-415.
Teta, J., & Teta, K. (2008, February/March). Exercise is Medicine. Townsend Letter , pp.68-70.
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