Exercise and mental health
👣While we all hear about how good exercise is for mental wellbeing, what does the research show? ! 👣Population studies consistently find that regular exercise (150min/week) reduces the risk of depression by around 30%. Shorter more intensive exercise has a similar effect (ie running 10min/day or 10min of HIIT). This benefit even occurs in young kids 👣One study compared a group of 20 year olds who exercised regularly, with another group who were asked to stop all exercise - within 4 weeks the sedentary group started to develop depression, even though nothing else had changed 👣Trials using exercise to treat depression show its highly effective. One RCT comparing exercise with antidepressants over 4 months, found that regular exercise was AS effective as antidepressants, and this continued even a year later 👣Another trial compared exercise regimes in people with treatment resistant depression - again those who exercised more significantly improved 👣Exercise also helps PTSD, with the physical movement 'rewiring' the brain out of the cycle of thoughts and emotions that occur after trauma 👣Trials using exercise for anxiety again show it improves symptoms, as well as reducing sensitivity to panic attacks 👣The science behind exercise : - reduces cortisol levels (stress hormone) via altering the HPA axis in the brain - increases the size of your hippocampus (the part of the brain that stores memories and regulates emotional responses) - releases feel good hormones (endorphins) and happy hormones (serotonin and dopamine) - increases blood flow to the brain and stimulates BDNF (the brain hormone that causes brain growth and rewiring) - reduces inflammation (strongly linked to depression) - triggers vagus nerve activation (the 'rest and relax' part of your nervous system) 👣It also improves sleep, concentration, libido, self esteem, energy levels, and resilience!! 👣Often motivation can be a barrier if you're feeling down - start with small goals initially if this is you, and slowly build it up - even a 10min walk each day can really help. Any kind of exercise helps - find something you love!