There are a lot of people who feel like COVID-19 is a type of clinical depression. This is because winter has been dragging on leaving people curled up inside eating too much comfort food. It also feels a lot like “Groundhog Day”. With such feelings of oppression and emptiness, the last thing you may want to do is get some exercise. Unfortunately, this feeling will only feed upon itself.
The Importance of Getting Up and Moving
We’ve known for years now that regular exercise will make a person feel less depressed. This is because it can initiate a lot of positive effects such as improving your sleep, reducing your blood pressure, and protecting you against diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. For some people who are feeling moderately depressed exercising can even be as effective as taking SSRI medications.
In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Columbia University Medical Center undertook a study with 119 volunteers. These people were assigned to two different groups: Group A was instructed to exercise four times per week while Group B continued with their regular routines. After three months, the groups were tested for depressive symptoms. While Group A had a 35% reduction in their depression symptoms, Group B barely changed at all. One thing that is important to remember here is that you won’t see improvements in your depression for a few weeks. However, you may still feel better for up to a month after you stop exercising.
Many researchers are still trying to get a better understanding of how exercise impacts depression. There are a lot of different theories regarding this though. Some researchers say that it’s effective because of the endorphins that are released while you’re up and moving. They say that perhaps this endorphin release promotes an improvement in your mood as well as in your overall sense of well-being. It’s also possible that when you work out you develop feelings of self-efficacy. Essentially what researchers are saying here is that exercise will give your confidence such a boost that you are then able to exert the right type of control when it comes to the outcome of certain events in your life. Additionally, exercising may simply serve as a very effective distraction that allows you to turn your attention away from what you’re worried about or why you’re suffering from depression.
If you find that you aren’t as happy as you once were or if you aren’t as optimistic about life as you were in the past, it’s time to engage in some routine exercise. You should start by easing yourself into interesting things. Try engaging in some low-intensity activity like taking a walk. Make sure you do this every day even if you don’t walk very far or for very long. Once you’ve been consistent for a while you can increase how much time you spend walking each day. Ultimately you should be exercising for 150 minutes per week but don’t expect to get there right away. You also shouldn’t expect any other results right away. While you may find it easier to sleep through the night when you’re outside for a while each day, it may take several weeks before your mood becomes regulated.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues, it’s a good idea to add some exercise to our daily routines. However, if you find that you’re still struggling with depression you should contact TMS Advantage in St. Petersburg and Clearwater, FL. These aren’t only valuable components of self-care, but they’re also highly effective ways to fight off those dark moods that COVID-19 brings about.
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