We have started with a small yoga practice this week, in attempt to start slow, but still get some physical activity in. If you are like me, the last thing you want to hear is that exercise is good for depression.
However, regular exercise, as we probably all, already know may be the single most powerful natural antidepressant available. Various clinical and community studies have shown the mood enhancing benefits of exercise. This can be attributed to the endorphins released by regular exercise which directly correlate with mood. In fact, over 100 clinical studies have confirmed that physical training relieves the symptoms of depression, elevates self-esteem and improves mood.
I know it sucks! It is difficult to even get out of bed! How are we supposed to run around a track or whatever far fetched exercise scheme researchers can come up with, right? The best exercises were noted to be strength training (weight lifting) or aerobic activity.
Sadly, yoga and stretching are not listed in the studies I reviewed for this article, but that doesn’t mean it is not beneficial. Honestly, yoga has so many health benefits. As we discussed before, yoga eases stress, which in turn lowers that nasty cortisol we talked about. Another benefit of yoga is the controlled breathing, which also reduces the stress reaction and cortisol production.
Also, like I mentioned before, once you get into some of the more difficult poses, you are concentrating on the pose and your breathing and your balance, you have completely taken your mind off of what ails you.
Regardless what exercise you decide is right for you, the benefits of exercise on depression are indisputable. We have to get up, we have to get moving. We cannot kick depression’s ass if we are laying down, now can we?
The encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Third ed.