Whenever we want to get in shape, look a little better in our jeans, or lower our risk of cardiovascular disease, we all know to turn to exercise. Exercise isn’t just useful for increasing our physical fitness, though; it can also do wonders to increase our emotional fitness as well. Evidence is mounting that exercise can have beneficial effects on the symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep difficulty.
It is not yet know why exercise is beneficial for those dealing with depression and anxiety, but there are several different theories. Exercise is believed to increase endorphin levels, a hormone that is linked to feeling elated. Another theory is that exercise increases self-worth, something that many people with depression struggle with. Exercise effects everything from stress hormones to body temperature, all of which can have an effect on mood. In general, if we feel good physically, we’re more likely to feel good emotionally.
Exercise to combat stress, anxiety, and depression doesn’t have to be intense. In fact, a little light exercise on a regular basis may be enough to do the trick. The idea is to just get moving. A short walk in the evening after dinner for about 15 minutes can actually help reduce stress and anxiety. You don’t have to start training for the marathon or bulking up like a body builder to see positive effects on your mood from exercise.