Exercise for Depression and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are a normal part of life, but anxiety disorders, which affect 40 million adults, are the most common psychiatric illnesses in the U.S. The benefits of exercise may well extend beyond stress relief to improving anxiety and related disorders.
You hear people saying exercise makes us feel better, and actually we do unless you have never tried exercising to try to feel better. It works but most of us have no idea why. We assume it’s because we’re burning off stress or reducing muscle tension or boosting endorphins, and we leave it at that. But the real reason we feel so good when we get our blood pumping is that it makes the brain function at its best, and in my view, this benefit of physical activity is far more important—and fascinating—than what it does for the body.
Building muscles and conditioning the heart and lungs are essentially in fact supplementary effects. The most magical of exercising is really to build and condition your brain.
It was already known that exercise increases levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine—important neurotransmitters that traffic in thoughts and emotions. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, and maybe you know that a lack of it is associated with depression. Toxic levels of stress erode the connections between the billions of nerve cells in the brain or that chronic depression shrinks certain areas of the brain. And exercise unleashes a cascade of neurochemicals and growth factors that can reverse this process, physically bolstering the brain’s infrastructure. In fact, the brain responds like muscles do, growing with use, withering with inactivity. The neurons in the brain connect to one another through “leaves” on treelike branches, and exercise causes those branches to grow and bloom with new buds, thus enhancing brain function at a fundamental level. Neuroscientists have started studying exercise’s impact within brain cells—at the genes themselves!
At the core of our biology, they’ve found signs of the body’s influence on the mind. It turns out that moving our muscles produces proteins that travel through the bloodstream and into the brain, where they play pivotal roles in the mechanisms of our highest thought processes.
Exercise is considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce stress. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress has depleted your energy or ability to concentrate.
When stress affects the brain, with its many nerve connections, the rest of the body feels the impact as well. Or, if your body feels better, so does your mind. Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins — chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers — and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.
Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.
Talk to us about your stress, and let us work out a good plan to start alleviating your problem. It may be more chronic and serious than you think it might be, that will eventually affect your work, your family and your precious life.
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FIRSTBEAT LIFESTYLE ASSESSMENT TEST
In KCHAMPS, we don't prefer to do guesswork to try to help our patients/clients, we have comprehensive tests to help manage the problem. In one's lifestyle where most stress are developed, it is paramount to manage it well, there we include test to help us formulate solutions, in KChamps we utilises an assessment from Finland to help facilitate this.
AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM AND HEART RATE VARIABILITY
Cornerstones of healthy life and well-being are lifestyle related choices and behaviors. Extensive scientific literature shows that appropriate physical activity, and restful sleep support recovery from day-to-day and long-term stress, and both contribute positively to well-being along with a healthy diet and moderate use of alcohol. Although the key aspects of health and well-being are well known, challenges in those aspects remain. Stress, poor sleep, physical inactivity, overweight and obesity may all cause adverse health outcomes, increase the risk of severe chronic diseases, and reduce the quality of life. The overall burden of unhealthy lifestyles is heavy both at individual and the societal level.