Can Exercise Fight Depression and Make You Happier?

Need a mood boost? Break a sweat. The latest research confirms what exercisers know to be true: There is a strong connection between regular workouts and happiness.
The connections between exercise and happiness. The results show that those who exercised for 150–300 minutes each week (less than 45 minutes every day) experienced dramatic improvements in mood; the exercisers that the researchers classified as “very active” were up to 52% happier than those who were less active; even the “sufficiently active” exercisers experienced 30% more happiness than their more sedentary peers.
While the research didn’t explore the reasons for the relationship between exercise and happiness indicates exercise increases blood flow and oxygen to the brain, triggering the release of “feel good” hormones called endorphins.
“When you make exercise part of your life, you will find not only exercise is beneficial to maintaining your positive thoughts and mood but also is an effective way to [get] off screens and off the couch during the day.”
I admit that it’s unclear whether happier people exercise more or more exercise leads to greater happiness but notes there is a strong “reciprocal relationship” at work.
No particular type of exercise was most effective for boosting happiness. Whether it be aerobic, strength training, stretching and balancing exercises all had similar positive impacts on mood. The exercise/happiness connection was especially pronounced among those who were overweight.
If the idea of logging 150-plus minutes of exercise per week seems overwhelming, take heed: It is only take a few as 10 minutes of exercise could have a significant impact on happiness.
There is more than 30,000 American adults that those who were sedentary were 44% more likely to be diagnosed with depression than regular exercisers — and it only took as little as one hour of exercise per week to have a protective effect. So the physical and social benefits of exercise as the main reasons.
Exercise is a safe, effective and inexpensive complement to medication or psychotherapy treatments and, for mild to moderate depression, can be a standalone treatment. “It’s best to be seen by a mental health professional if you’re interested in it as a sole treatment [so they can] monitor if the exercise is working and modify or add additional treatment if you’re not improving.”
Despite the positive connection between exercise and happiness, “I would avoid recommending tasks to someone that she or he will likely fail.  I don’t want to diminish self-efficacy and feelings of competence even more than may already be the case, given his/her depression.” “Because it’s so difficult once one is in the depths of a depressive episode to muster up energy and motivation to exercise, I recommend that persons who have experienced depression previously, or who are at higher risk of depression, to make exercise a habit.  Some of the strongest its effectiveness in preventing future depressions.”

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