Elle Woods (of Legally Blonde fame) once said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” And while she may be a fictional character without much (fine, any) medical or clinical expertise, she was right. Exercise really can work wonders to boost your physical fitness, boost your mood and improve how you feel, inside and out. And we’re not even just talking about when you’re having a stressful day. Exercise and depression are linked and experts agree that physical activity can serve as a successful depression treatment in certain cases.
The Link Between Exercise and Depression
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 16 million adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder in any given year. To provide some context, that’s about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population for people age 18 and older. The bad news is that depression is common, and yet there is such a stigma attached to it that many people go undiagnosed and untreated. But on the bright side, research shows that your depression can potentially be both prevented and treated with exercise as a part of a comprehensive treatment plan. That’s right, exercise. Think sweaty spin class, treadmill running, weight-lifting exercise. Stay with us.
Let’s talk about depression. A depressed state can be brought on by a number of factors, including genetic predisposition, traumatic events, loss of a loved one, medical conditions, difficult life circumstances and changes in hormone levels, just to name a few. And while being able to recognize risk factors and symptoms of depression are certainly important, knowing how to treat and prevent that depression is equally crucial.
And here’s the awesome news: you don’t necessarily need any intense treatment, a pill or any sort of medical intervention, and you also don’t need to suffer. All you need to do is sweat.
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