If you suffer from anxiety or depression, then you know that when you feel this way, exercise is often the last thing that you want to do. However, exercise is actually one of the best ways to help yourself – aside from helping to prevent many health issues, it also has been shown in research that exercise helps to reduce anxiety and improve mood.

One of the reasons that exercise affects us so much is because it produces endorphins in our bodies, which are chemicals that reduce the perception of pain and provide a positive feeling.

Exercise can have a significant effect on mood, and the benefits are observed in a variety of ways. Some of these benefits are:

  • It distracts you from your worries and concerns as you focus on the activity you are performing
  • Reduces stress
  • Increases the ability to relax
  • Improves health and fitness level
  • Increases energy level
  • Improves sleep
  • Self-confidence can increase through meeting exercise goals and feeling a sense of accomplishment   

When we talk about exercise, it doesn’t have to mean running long distances or spending hours at the gym. There are a variety of activities that can help decrease anxiety and depression, including walking, running, playing sports, lifting weights, doing yoga, gardening, biking, swimming, or anything else that gets you off the couch and moving around.

Even small changes like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking to work or the store can improve health. A regular exercise program can help decrease the symptoms of depression and anxiety, and if maintained can also aid in keeping the symptoms from returning.