Fitness Makes a Difference
Many times when we are struggling with anxiety or depression the last thing we want to do is exercise. Since our first days off the Biggest Loser Ranch, however, Austin and I both knew that fitness makes a difference. Simply put, physical activity reduces anxiety and improves state of mind.
Our bodies are like chemistry sets. Our meal plans, physical activity and fluid intake determine the balance of chemistry in our bodies. Our mental health can be negatively affected when our body chemistry is off even a little bit.
IMPORTANT: We are not telling you that every person who takes anxiety medication can simply start exercising and throw away their medication. However, there IS truth that for some people, regular exercise will correct their brain chemistry, and they may not need their medication any longer.
If you are on medication for mood or anxiety, work with your primary doctor once you have worked up to exercising 4 or more days a week for 40 minutes or more each time. Your doctor can help decide if you can reduce or eliminate your medications.
How does exercise relieve depression and anxiety?
Let’s talk about brain chemistry. First, physical activity releases chemicals in our brain that are called endorphins and neurotransmitters. These are believed to ease depression and anxiety. Not only does regular physical activity increase these good chemicals but it also decreases other chemicals that worsen depression. Also, this level of fitness increases our body temperature which has a calming effect on our bodies. Regular physical activity improves our sleep which also helps with better brain health.
Second, the psychological effects of physical activity are also beneficial. The Mayo Clinic gives four reasons physical activity aids us psychologically.
1. Physical activity helps us gain confidence.
As we meet our goals for physical fitness we have more confidence and feel better about our appearance.
2. Physical activity allows more social interaction with others.
Socializing with others is an important part of emotional health that we simply ignore much of the time.
3. Physical activity takes your mind off of worries.
Many times when we are struggling, we are living a vicious cycle of negativity that feeds our depression and anxiety.
4. Physical activity allows us to cope in a healthy way.
Positive activity in dealing with anxiety and depression lifts us out of the downward spiral. Turning to negative activities like drinking and binge eating only increases the downward spiral.
Physical activity and exercise truly can make a difference in our lives and allows us to think and act more clearly.