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While it may be the last thing a person with depression feels like doing, getting some daily healthy exercise actually has many benefits that may help improve a person’s mood and reduce other symptoms of depression.
Rather than turning to negative influences such as alcohol or drugs, daily exercise can be a positive way to manage the stress and worry that can be part of depression. Exercise not only serves as a “distraction,” or a way to forget about every day worries, but it can also help a person suffering from depression get into better shape, which in turn can boost self-confidence.
Additionally, exercise helps to ease depression by releasing chemicals in the brain, such as neurotransmitters and endorphins, which help regulate moods. These chemicals also increase body temperature, which can have calming effects on the body.
There is no certain type of exercise that works best in treating depression. Exercise could consist of walking, running, biking, swimming, lifting weights or even playing a team sport such as basketball or soccer. It’s important to switch your exercise routine regularly in order to not become bored with one particular activity.
Intense exercise is not always needed. Gardening or cleaning your house also can be considered exercise that gets you up and moving, which can greatly improve your mood.
Research suggests that 30 minutes or more of exercise a day for three to five days a week can improve symptoms of depression. However, a person can do smaller amounts of activity such as 10 to 15 minutes at a time and still feel better.
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