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Physical exercise can be very difficult for many who suffer from depression, as one of the main symptoms of depression is lack of motivation.

Everywhere you look, exercise is being promoted and celebrated as a means to rid yourself of not only excess weight, but also many health and physical issues. It is even recommended for those who suffer from depression and associated conditions such as anxiety and stress, but how does it actually help your mood?

Exercise For The Health Of Your Brain

When you suffer from depression and stress, certain hormones can increase which leads to even further anxiety. Many research studies have been conducted which have shown that an increase in one of these hormones, cortisol, has a particularly nasty effect on a certain part of the brain called the hippocampus. Yes, there is actually a part of the brain called the hippocampus, and it’s not some made up holiday camp where a hippopotamus goes for holidays. 

 

This part of the brain is responsible for helping with emotions and memory, and when it is affected by too much cortisol, the hippocampus actually shrinks, leading to emotional distress.

Research studies conducted using animals and humans have all shown that exercise can help to reverse the shrinking of the hippocampus. This is because regular exercise increases the formation of new brain cells, therefore leading to a calming effect due to the release of particular neurotransmitters.

How Much Exercise Is Enough?

Physical exercise can be very difficult for many who suffer from depression, as one of the main symptoms of depression is lack of motivation. Sometimes activities that used to make you happy no longer do, but it is important to keep trying or find something new. Eventually, the more often you exercise, the better you will feel.

Regular exercise doesn’t mean you have to rush out and purchase a gym membership. In fact this is likely to put even more pressure on you and it will seem too big an undertaking to even try. This is where many people get caught out, because they think that regular exercise means you have to have long physical workouts every day. But that is not necessary, and for some people, just impossible.

When they say you need to exercise, it means you need to do some type of movement every day. Getting off the couch and walking to the refrigerator doesn’t count of course. But walking around the block or outdoor chores like mowing the lawns can be enough. The idea is to start out small and gradually increase your level of activity as your fitness and mental wellness improves.

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