Feeling Depressed, Anxious, or Stressed? Science Says Hitting the Gym Might Help

Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husband, they just don’t
— Elle Woods

Our favorite witty blonde has got it right. Mental health and personal well-being can be changed drastically by exercise. For those who suffer from depression or experience the occasional depressive episode from time to time, a good workout can have massive benefits. 

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According to a Harvard Health Letter, people with depression have a smaller hippocampus, the region in the brain that regulates mood. When you exercise, the activity can help nerve cells within the hippocampus grow and form new connections. So while you’re watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones on the treadmill, little did you know that you are working on your brain’s chemical composition in a way that could have long-term health benefits!

Many of the symptoms people with depression face, whether it be “disturbed sleep, reduced energy, appetite changes, body aches [or] increase pain perception”, can be strong deterrents from getting that gym time in. A great way to combat this is by committing to a certain length of time. Tell yourself that you’re going to go to the gym and do something for 30, 45 or maybe even 60 minutes. When you hear the timer ding, you can leave. I suggest starting with cardio because it gets you up and moving and is something you can do for the entire time you have allotted as “gym time.” 

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Another great tip from social media influencer Chinae Alexander is to visualize yourself actually going to the gym when you don’t feel like going. When you can picture yourself making your way to the gym and actually working out, you’re a lot more likely to follow through. I even take it one step further and have found that visualizing what you want to look like and how you want to feel, makes it a lot easier and more likely that you will reach those goals and feel that way. 

Even if you don’t suffer from depression or anxiety, getting the pent up and inevitable stress out of your system at the end of the day or clearing your mind at the beginning through exercise is a great way to make a positive change in your life and improve your quality of life.