How can physical activity affect your mood and help you fight depression?

Stress can affect your health without you even realising it. You may think that illness is to blame for your headaches, frequent insomnia or reduced productivity, when often these symptoms indicate that depression may be to blame. Indeed, depression symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behaviour. Being able to recognise common symptoms of depression can empower you to overcome them. Stress and depression that goes unnoticed can contribute to many health problems.

What is depression?

Depression is a common but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. It is important to realize that feeling down at times is a normal part of life. Sad and upsetting events happen to everyone. But if you are feeling down or hopeless on a regular basis, you could be dealing with depression.

The physical effects of depression are summarized as follows:

  • Decreased energy, fatigue, or being slowed down;
  • Difficulty sleeping, including insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping;
  • Appetite or weight changes, including low appetite and weight loss or overeating and weight gain;
  • Persistent physical symptoms, such as headaches, pain, and digestive disorders, that cannot otherwise be diagnosed or do not respond to treatment.

Like stress, depression is unavoidable, but manageable. There are all sorts of options, activities you can do to help you fight depression.

Find time for active leisure and disconnect from everyday life!

These activities include:

  • Regular physical activity;
  • Relaxation techniques - deep breathing, meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, massage;
  • Don't forget your daily dose of humour - don't take life hard and laugh about it;
  • Socialise with family and friends;
  • Take time for your hobbies - reading a book or listening to music.

Watching TV, surfing the internet or playing video games are inactive ways that may seem relaxing to you, but they can actually increase your stress and are not a good tool in fighting depression in the long run.

Physical activity - an effective way to stay out of depression!

Physical activity is often associated as a powerful tool for rapid weight loss or muscle mass gain, but a very important aspect is its powerful impact on a person's mental health and well-being. Adults who participate in daily physical activity have an estimated 20-30% lower risk of depression and dementia.

Physical activity can stimulate overall emotional well-being by improving self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality. Regular physical activity also reduces anxiety and fatigue.

During physical activity, the body releases a chemical called endorphins, colloquially known as the happiness hormone. Endorphins make the body feel positive, reduce the perception of pain and calm the mind. This is why the feeling that follows a run or workout is often described as “euphoric”.

People who are prone to depression may find it harder to force themselves out of a sedentary lifestyle. But physical activity, especially group exercise, is a good way to get motivation and support from others, at least in the beginning. Physical activity will stimulate the nervous system, the immune system and the endocrine system, which may have been in a muted mode before, to a greater and more powerful extent, thus improving overall well-being.

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