exercise-depressionExercise is important to our physical health but it’s also essential to our mental well-being. If you’re feeling down, one of the best things you can do is to get active. It doesn’t take much; a brisk 30-minute walk is sometimes all it takes to help you feel better.

When you’re depressed, your brain doesn’t function like it should. In fact, depression shuts down the brain’s ability to adapt to new situations. Certain chemicals in the brain are limited that decrease communication in the brain during depression.

During exercise, our bodies release endorphins and serotonin. Endorphins are a natural antidepressant and serotonin boosts mood. It also increases blood flow to the brain, which can cause an increase in memory and alertness.

It has a number of physical and mental health benefits, including, but not limited to:

• Increasing self-esteem
• Gaining confidence
• Creating a distraction from your nagging thoughts
• Fresh air and sunshine to bolster mood

Before you start any exercise routine, always check with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you. In the meantime, prepare yourself for what you’ll do to burn calories and ease your depression symptoms. Think of activities you enjoy doing because making exercise fun means you’ll stick with it longer. Don’t forget to set reasonable goals for yourself and prepare for setbacks.

While exercise is a great method to help you feel better, it may not be enough. You may still need an antidepressant, but that doesn’t mean you get to skip the exercise! Medication and exercise are a great combination and should be taken together.

To getting you back to your best self,
Lori Calabrese, MD

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