Everyone knows that exercise is vital for maintaining physical health, but did you know that it can help improve your mental health too? Those who exercise reap numerous psychological benefits, as exercise has been shown to lift depressed moods, lessen stress, improve self-esteem and body image, and generate feelings of euphoria. Yet the benefits of exercise are still often overlooked or underestimated by American psychiatrists. Perhaps it is time to take another look at this simple, healthy and free way to improve mental health.
Exercise trends come and go in the United States, leaving many wondering what is the most effective way to work out. Surprisingly, according to a 2010 study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, when it comes to using exercise to combat depression, it doesn’t matter what type or intensity of exercise a person does. A brisk walk was just as effective as a long run at reducing negative thoughts and feelings. It did make a difference, however, whether the exercise occurred during a person’s spare time. Those whose jobs included extensive walking were equally likely to be depressed as those who did not exercise at all. Only exercise in one’s spare time was psychologically helpful.
In a 2011 study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, researchers found that exercising with a friend or partner was more beneficial to mental health than exercising alone, and that outdoor exercise had a greater positive impact on mood than did indoor exercise. The best exercise method for improving your mood, therefore, is to exercise during your free time at any intensity so long as it is outdoors and with a partner.
Many people suffering from depression, however, feel tired all of the time. Exercising might seem like a daunting task that they do not have the energy or motivation to undertake. These people may be affected by poor mitochondrial functioning. Mitochondria are structures in every cell of the human body that help provide energy to the cell. If a person’s mitochondria do not function properly, the person may experience fatigue and a loss of motivation. Supplements can help such people overcome these feelings and begin exercising. Some supplements that can boost mitochondrial functioning include ribose, B12, carnitine, and CoQ10.
People who struggle to find the motivation to exercise should try taking these supplements and then get outside and get moving. Exercise could be the answer to lifting their depression for good.