Sports for depression.
In our age of high technology and speed, we are all exposed to heavy loads, both physical and mental. Modern people are under constant emotional and nervous tension. Very often, when we go to bed we wish that no one had invented the “Off” button, and sometimes in the morning we keep replaying the events, options, solutions, possible outcomes, thereby increasing the load on the thinking center. Finally, the moment comes when fatigue comes. Add to this some external factors, for example, fall – slush outside, winter – the cold, it gets dark early, it gets light late, no desire to go out of the house unnecessarily. And if on top of everything else there are problems at school or at work, frustration in your personal life, then it’s just too bad. So to the point of depression is not difficult.
The only effective way to help the brain “relax” is to shift its attention to something else. The best way to do this is physical activity, i.e. intensive body movements. In a word, it is worth doing sports. In this case, the sport does not matter at all, unless, of course, you dream of becoming a great athlete, well, for example, Maria Sharapova or Alexei Nilov.
Treadmill, exercise bicycle, swimming or exercises with weights… All will do. What is important is a substantial load and concentration, which will help you to switch your attention from the current problems to doing the exercise. It’s hard enough to think about anything when trying to lift a barbell with a solid weight, for example.
The body and mind are one system. By influencing the body, we cause the brain to “shift” all attention away from the body. That is, our thoughts begin to follow the movements and sensations of the body. And the problems that seem to be unsolvable disappear into the background. And this is the relaxation and rest of the mind from situations that cause depression.
There is another thing, during physical activity, microscopic traumas occur in the muscle fibers. And in order to pain these injuries, substances are released into the body that have an analgesic effect. At the same time, these substances give you a feeling of slight euphoria. For this reason, after a workout a person for 1.5-2 hours has an elevated mood and a sense of satisfaction.
After physical activity, sleep improves. In general, sleep is the most important restorative and relaxing process. There is nothing worse than insomnia, when the brain continues to work hard, not allowing even for a minute to forget, increasing nervous tension. Athletic activity stimulates deeper sleep, which means it reduces nighttime brain activity and improves rest, which also reduces depression and stress.
In short, sports are a good antidepressant.
You don’t need a lot of expenses for such a medicine. If, for whatever reason, you can not go to fitness clubs and gyms, you can do gymnastics at home. Turn up some loud music and go ahead. Also on the Internet you can find dozens of videos of different fitness programs.
But does everyone think the same way? In a social survey of students aged 17-19, the following results were revealed:
1) most prefer to splash out their stress on others, rather than relieve it with physical activity;
2) however at the same time two thirds of respondents believe that stress tolerance depends on the state of health of a person;
3) it was revealed that people engaged in physical exercise and sports in general, when asked how often they experience stress, more often answered “never” or “sometimes”, and vice versa;
4) more than 70% of respondents noted an increase in mood after doing sports, a little smaller number of students also highlighted an increase in performance during the period of visiting sports sections and circles;
5) most people believe that the best way to get positive emotions is to go to a cafe or take a walk, but quite a few would like to go in for sports, for example, for running;
6) almost all respondents consider transformation of appearance as the main goal of physical activity, a few consider improvement of health, and only a few consider relaxation of tension;
7) only 1/3 of students tried to fight stress with sports, but all 100% of those who tried it succeeded. And this fact can’t help but rejoice.
So, sport is a good thing in any situation. Especially in moments when we feel dissatisfied. Sport makes the body stronger, more resilient, contributes to greater emotional stability.
If you have decided to change something in your life, but are hesitant and do not know where to start, start with sports. It will help you increase your self-esteem and distract you from doubts.
Types of physical activities that help fight depression
Depression is one of the most serious illnesses of our time. Yes, it is likely that the stresses and nervous disorders were in the old days. But first, they were not given as much attention, they all seemed far-fetched and artificial. And secondly, a very rapid leap in the development of civilization, technological progress, a huge flow of information from everywhere, which has to be “digested” – this can really lead today to a depressive state. And you know what helps relieve stress? Physical activity! We decided to find out in detail if it is real to get rid of depression with the help of sports and what kinds of physical activities will be the most effective.
Can physical activity overcome stress?
To answer this question, we must first look at the origins of stress and depression in more detail. Australian scientists, after conducting a number of studies, say that it manifests itself due to the breakdown of the finest connections between the nerve cells of our brain. These connections are thinned by a variety of factors, and then completely severed. There is dissipation, apathy, loss of energy and mood, and too many disruptions can lead to nervous breakdowns, prolonged depression, mental clouding, and even suicidal ideation.
And one of the most important risk factors for depression can be called a lack of motor activity. This is not surprising, because our musculoskeletal system and our central nervous system are closely linked, and many brain functions will directly depend on the activity of a particular muscle group. This can be proved at least by the fact that during walking you can remember much more information than at rest. That is why, by the way, many people recommend listening to useful audiobooks during jogging, walking and other types of physical activity, and just getting to work or another destination.
But back to depression. Having found one of the main causes of depression, scientists set out to turn things around, that is, to try to prove that more motor activity and regular types of physical activity can actually combat stress, neuroses and depression if it has already manifested itself. The New York State Department of Mental Hygiene did an analysis of previous research over the past 25 years, and added their own experiments to the mix. It turned out that regular exercise was a really effective exercise in treating depression.
Physical activity of medium intensity showed the greatest effectiveness in overcoming stress. In our subjects, constant exercise restored metabolism, normalized hormones, increased the body’s defenses, and reduced inflammatory markers. Sugar levels were normalized, which automatically relieved muscle tension, the flow of oxygen to the brain was activated, which increased mental performance, endorphins were produced, raising the mood. But what kinds of physical activity will really be the most effective if you need to use them to combat depression?
The best types of physical activity to fight depression
Any physical activity, one way or another, will distract you from “digging” into your thoughts, and this is already a big plus for relaxation. Focusing on movement and your athletic accomplishments can really help beat stress on its own. And in addition, motor activity will strengthen the connections between neurons to avoid the manifestation of depression in the future. So what will help overcome stress? What kind of physical activity will be the most useful?
These are the types of physical activities that have been shown to have the best results against depression in studies by the New York Department of Mental Hygiene. Exercising too intensely, such as interval or functional training, crossfit or strength training, would not likely produce such results. The body is already depleted enough by depression without exercise, and too much exertion can put both body and brain under even more stress. But running or walking, just walking at a brisk pace, even for 20-30 minutes will really help to relax. These cardio exercises, if they are regular, train the respiratory and cardiovascular system, develop physical endurance and oxygenate the brain.
It is impossible not to mention swimming. Being in the water itself is able to give complete relaxation: the musculoskeletal system is relaxed, the tension from the spine, all joints and muscles is removed, “hydro weightlessness” occurs, when you feel an incredible lightness in the whole body. In addition, being in the water allows the brain to relax – at the level of instincts, because the baby’s body in the womb all 9 months is also in the water. In the pool you already have a sense of security and tranquility. Well, and active swimming will make all the muscles of the body work and lead to shape. It is not necessary to work hard right away, it is enough to swim at your pleasure or perform a few effective exercises from aqua-aerobics course in water.
And, of course, we couldn’t help but mention yoga – any asana (pose) will already have a relaxing effect. The whole point of yoga is to find harmony between the physical body and the inner spirit, so yoga classes will be ideal if you are constantly in tension and can’t relax. There are many directions in yoga, it’s better to start with classical hatha yoga to learn the basics of this philosophy. And if you want something more dynamic, there is power yoga (which includes strength exercises), fitness yoga (more dynamic with elements of fitness), dance yoga (dance steps), fly yoga (yoga on canvas) and even yoga in water.
The most effective exercises for overcoming stress
If you’re a long way from traditional forms of exercise – from the treadmill, the pool or a yoga class – and stress hits you unexpectedly, there are quite effective “first aid” exercises to overcome it.
Most often, stress and panic attacks come to us when the muscles in the neck and shoulders are tight – oxygen is not supplied to the brain, all the nerves are extremely tense. Similar exercises will help: stand up straight, straighten your shoulders, put your palms on your shoulders. Now take a deep breath and as you inhale slowly lift your shoulders up and your head tilted back. As you exhale, do the opposite: return your head to its original position, and lower your arms. Repeat this 5 to 10 times, as many times as needed to relieve tension in your neck, shoulders, and back.
Reach for the sky
The starting position is also standing. Place your feet at shoulder width or slightly wider, so that you feel as stable as possible. Slowly breathe in the air with your chest in, and meanwhile raise your hands up through the sides or forward (as you feel more comfortable), trying to reach for them as far as possible. You can even stand on your toes and throw your head upward, too. As you exhale, return to the starting position, but do not “throw” yourself down, but go down slowly. Ideally the exhalation should be longer than the inhalation.
Not just deeper, but try to breathe with your belly and count to yourself at the same time. Deep breathing is exactly what allows you to cope with the worst panic attacks, when it feels like there isn’t enough air. Take a breath on the count from 1 to 4-5, hold your breath for 3 to 4 seconds, filling the lungs to the maximum, and then exhale the air even slower than you breathed it in – on the count from 1 to 6-7. Fill your belly first with air and then your lungs, but do the opposite on the exhalation – first release the lungs and only then the belly.
Don’t know how to motivate yourself to exercise? Take this quiz and find out what it takes to love it.