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Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Depression

HomeEssaysNursingEffects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Depression
09.01.2020
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Abstract

Depression and anxiety are the most prevalent psychiatric conditions in the world. Depression is the leading cause of disability globally and is forecasted to be the second-largest contributor to the global burden of morbidity by the year 2020. There are multiple treatments for depression and anxiety that have varying degrees of effectiveness. Physical exercises have been associated with decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety. Physical exercises have also been related to improved physical health, satisfaction with life, cognitive functioning, and psychological well-being. The exercises work equally well with antidepressant medications as the first-line treatment for mild to moderate depression states; they also improve depressive symptoms when used as an appendage to medications. The researcher intends to conduct a library study to establish the types of depression as well as the types of exercises and to unearth how the latter helps reduce the impacts of the former on an individual’s body.

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Regular Exercise and Depression

Depression is one of the most serious mood disorders that has a very high prevalence. The disorder affects one in every five men and each eighth woman. Depression is the state of low mood and inactivity that interferes with an individual’s behavior, thoughts, sense of well-being, and feelings. Such people feel sad, irritable, helpless, empty, anxious, and ashamed of others. The affected person loses interest in the activities that were previously liked or part of a routine. The effects are overeating or loss of appetite, memory lapse, indecisiveness, suicidal thoughts, excessive or little sleep, pain, fatigue, digestive problems, weight loss or gain, and lowered energy among others. The cause may be a mental issue or a normal reaction to drugs. A strong link exists between physical activity and mental well-being. The research shows that exercises are an effective and cost-efficient treatment alternative for a variety of anxiety disorders. Although exercises may not have capabilities to reduce anxiety to the level achieved by psychopharmaceuticals, they are still of great significance. Exercises are known to improve the mental well-being of an individual. Studies have indicated that exercises have the ability to heal various types of depression without any other medication. On the other hand, maintaining an exercise schedule is one of the great ways to prevent relapsing. Exercises are known to be effective in the management of depression because they aid in improving brain processes. They help in neural growth, and they also reduce information. Additionally, exercises also assist in promoting calmness and good feelings. Another important factor that makes exercises useful in the management of depression is the distraction that physical activities cause, thus hindering a chance of negative thoughts. It should be noted that depression is not just a condition of low mood, but it is a serious condition that is accompanied by a lot of physicals inactivates. The mentioned arguments confirm that serious measures have to be explored to curb the disease. In this paper, an explicit focus will be placed on how regular exercise could be helpful for depression patients. The attention will also be paid to how physical exercises relate to various causes of depression.

Causes of Depression

Living Conditions and Situations

Exposure to mental abuse, physical or sexual abuse, grief, neglect, and discriminatory parental love during childhood lead to depression in adulthood. Other conditions such as the identity crisis during the teenage years, the loss of a job, financial difficulties, medical diagnosis, catastrophes, and the loss of a relative among others may trigger depression in mature persons. In general, people tend to get stressed in these situations, thus getting exposed to depression. The exercises can be of great help when coping with stress. Therefore, they can aid in fighting this cause of depression (Peterson 3).

Drugs and Medical Treatments

Depression may arise due to the reaction of the body to medicinal substances used to treat various diseases. For example, the treatment for Hepatitis C along with the use of sleeping pills has a tendency to affect the mood of the medicated persons. Therefore, these side effects pose a great challenge to clinical doctors. In this case, the exercises cannot be of significant help. The exercises cannot eliminate the risk of depression that is caused by drugs (Dinas, Koutedakis and Flouris 319).

Non-Psychiatric Illnesses

These are illnesses that do not relate to the mental state of the affected person, and these include nutrition deficiencies, physiological complications, Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, diabetes, stroke, and cancer among others. The exercises are meant to improve mental health as well as boost physical fitness. However, regarding non-psychiatric conditions, it is apparent that they cannot be of significant help (Boomsma et. al 897).

Psychiatric Syndromes

Mood disorders that form the primary mood disturbances trigger depression, and the examples are major depressive disorder or clinical depression, dysthymia or chronically depressed mood, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder among others. Other mental causes are personality disorder, adjustment disorder, anxiety, and post-traumatic disorder among others The exercises can be of great help in reducing the psychiatric syndromes. Physical activities are known to alter the functions of the brain and even promote mental health (Boomsma et. al 898).

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Through exercise, the brain can release endorphins that serve as the energizers in the brain. Exercising can also reduce negative mood disorders by promoting good feelings. Additionally, it also increases self-confidence, and this may play a significant role in the management of psychiatric disorders (Boomsma et. al 897).

Although exercises cannot aid in managing all types of symptoms and solve all the causes of depression, it is true that they can assist in reducing the causes. They can be of great significance in curbing the psychiatric causes of depression, which are responsible for many cases of depression. It is thus notable that exercises can help mitigate some of the causes, and they can also aid in managing the disease. Regular exercise has been closely related to the reduction of depressive symptoms (Boomsma et. al 897).

Types of Physical Exercises That Are Helpful in the Management of Depression

Physical exercises are classified into three major types determined by the general effect that they have on the human body.

Aerobics

These are physical activities that involve large groups of muscles, and examples include swimming, cycling, rowing, running, skipping, tennis, and walking among others. The activities cause an individual’s body to utilize more oxygen than required while resting. The main aim is to improve the endurance of the circulatory system or its resistance to pressure (Exercise for Depression 1).

Anaerobic Exercises

This type focuses on strength or resistance training meant for firming, strengthening, and toning of one’s body muscles, as well as improving coordination, balance, and bone strength. The examples of activities are biceps curls, lunges, and pushups among others. However, caution is important to avoid overtraining or direct body injury (Dinas, Koutedakis and Flouris 322).

Flexibility Exercises

These exercises improve the strength and length of muscles, as well as the flexibility of joints and the overall status of muscles. The intention is to promote a range of body motions to reduce possibilities of injury. However, individuals must refrain from overstraining themselves by exercising responsibly to avoid injury or fatigue (Exercise for Depression 1).

Addressing the Disease Causes of Depression

The non- psychiatric diseases that cause and worsen depression include a variety of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, stroke, and cancer among others that result from bad eating habits as well as physical inactivity. The exercises help prevent and improve some health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis. The above evidence proves that exercising not only prevents the problem but also provides a therapeutic procedure to improve the health status of the already affected persons (Victoria State Government 2).

Psychological and Emotional Benefits of Regular Exercises

The exercises are widely prescribed by physicians in the management of depression. It all starts with the patient identifying the best exercise that he or she likes. It is notable that people are more likely to enjoy the types of exercises that they love; and therefore, it is imperative to ensure that individuals have identified their most preferred exercises. It is so easy to start exercising since there are many types of them that one can get for free. One should start with the simple forms of exercises such as walking, cycling, jogging, and many others. Although it may be hard at the beginning, after developing a routine, it becomes so motivating, and an individual can always benefit from exercising. There are many psychological benefits that emanate from exercising, and they can assist in curbing depression (Exercise for Depression 1).

Regular exercises help prevent a variety of mental complications such as dementia that leads to a low level of thinking. The additional benefit is the improvement of blood flow to the brain system, which reduces stress (Dinas, Koutedakis and Flouris 322).

Physical activities clear a depressed patient’s mind of worries. When exercising, individuals are forced to concentrate on the activities. As a result, exercising creates distractions for an individual, and the person shifts focus from the bad thoughts. The former confirms that exercises help avoid negative thoughts that provoke anxiety and depression. Physical activities boost the confidence of an individual. The lack of confidence is known to be a contributor to depressive conditions. Individuals who are confident are less affected by depression. As a result, exercising aids in boosting confidence; therefore, individuals who suffer from depression can cope well with it. Also, the exercises help individuals gain good shape. Having good shape can also aid a lot in boosting the confidence of an individual. Depressed individuals are more likely to increase self-esteem when they attain good shape. Achieving exercise goals or challenges, no matter how small they are, can boost a depressed person’s confidence (Robinson, Segal and Smith 3).

On the other hand, using exercises to cope with depression is one of the healthiest ways. It is one of the positive interventions that can enable one to cope with depression easily. The fact that exercising is coupled with many health outcomes that can help curb depression makes it a better way of treating depression. People who engage in physical activities have a good coping strategy as compared to those who try feeling better by abusing substances like alcohol, telling how badly they feel, or wishing anxiety or depression would leave by itself, which can lead to the worsening of the symptoms (Robinson, Segal and Smith 3).

Also, exercises help improve the social interaction of an individual. The symptoms of depression tend to persist when an individual lacks social interaction. However, exercising serves as a great way of improving social interactions. When people are engaged in the exercises, they get opportunities to interact with other people, and they can share their issues. Such interactions are of great help when it comes to treating depression (Dinas, Koutedakis and Flouris 324).

Additionally, when people join a team, they are more likely to feel that they are appreciated, and they have friends around them. This also aids in treating depression. When people exercise with their close friends, they can get the emotional support that is equally important in managing depression. Moreover, interactions with other people in the field or neighborhood promote exchanging friendly smiles and greetings that improve one’s moods (Mayo Clinic 2).

Biological Benefits of Regular Exercise

The exercises aid in releasing brain or feel-good chemicals that ease depression and these are neurotransmitters, endorphins, and endocannabinoids. Endorphins evoke a positive feeling in the body like morphine (drug); for example, the feeling that follows a run is euphoric and is usually accompanied by a positive and energizing outlook on life. Endorphins work as analgesic drugs to diminish the perception of pain. Endorphins also work as sedatives. However, they have an advantage over morphine in that the activation of receptors by the endorphins of the body leads to no addiction contrary to morphine (Exercise for Depression 1).

Neurotransmitter serotonin that is released during physical activity does many functions, including regulating mood, controlling appetite and the sleep-wake cycle, and reducing immune systems chemicals that are known to worsen depression. Physical activities increase body temperature that has a calming effect, thus improving depression (Dinas, Koutedakis and Flouris 319).

Improving Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important ways of coping with depression. When people are asleep, the mind relaxes and people can take a break from the negative thoughts that they have been experiencing. Exercising plays a role in promoting sleep. Regular exercises are said to improve sleep due to the relaxation of body muscles as well as the mind of the affected person, which reduces insomnia that is a symptom of depression. Therefore, sleep helps reduce as well as prevent the problem of depression. However, physical activities need to take place several hours before bedtime to avoid disrupting sleep. The option is better as opposed to the sleeping pills that are expensive and cause disruption of moods, which in turn causes or worsens depression (Robinson, Segal and Smith 2).

Limitation

Excessive exercises, especially of the cardiovascular type, are detrimental as they lead to strokes as well as other circulatory system illnesses such as scarring of the heart and the abnormal heartbeats. The physical impacts are fatigue, muscle strains, and damages as well as injuries such as dislocations and fractures. The problem also leads to the overtraining syndrome that reduces the immune capabilities of an individual’s body that may lead to the upper respiratory tract infection (Peterson 4).

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An abrupt stop of physical activities leads to the reduction of natural endorphins that result in depression. Amenorrhea or missing menstrual periods also happen when women engage in rigorous exercises. Patients with medical conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular conditions, and physical disabilities should seek professional guidance regarding the type and duration of physical activity in which they should engage (Peterson 3).

Conclusion

Depression is a serious condition that is induced by various causes such as the living conditions, reaction to medical treatment, non-psychiatric illnesses, and psychiatric syndromes among others. The subtypes of the complication include major depression, chronic depression, bipolar depression, seasonal depression, psychotic depression, post-partum depression, and substance-induced depression. The variety of physical activity used to deal with the problem comprises aerobic, anaerobic, and flexibility exercises. The benefits of physical activity include the prevention of non-mental illnesses that cause depression, and these include circulatory system diseases among others. The psychological effect of activity also eases stress and mood disruptions that help prevent depression. The biological benefit includes the release of natural antidepressants that control the person’s mind. The last benefit is the promotion of sleep through relaxation of the mind as well as muscles, which prevents insomnia. However, the limitations of the exercises include possible injuries as well as the interference with the circulatory system. Therefore, patients should consult physicians for a proper prescription of physical activities to avoid harm.

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