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The Science Behind Breaking a Sweat: The All-Natural, Highly-Effective Safeguard Against Depression & Anxiety

If you feel fatigued and despondent, things can weigh on you heavily. The root of the problem can be complex brain chemistry, emotional turmoil, or past trauma. People suffering from major depression and anxiety disorders can find the demands of daily life overwhelming and too much to bear. 

These diagnosable mood disorders wreak havoc on your quality of life, disrupting the ability to perform at work or school and therefore reach your goals. There is no shortage of therapeutics and interventions like talk therapy that help you cope, but another way to safeguard against a depressive or anxious episode is to stay active. 

Here’s why science supports it. 

Does the Hispanic Population Suffer from Major Depression? 

First, let’s look at some numbers. According to recent data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the leading cause of death for Hispanics ages 15 to 34 in 2019 was suicide. In 2018, Hispanics were 50 percent less likely to have received mental health treatment compared to non-Hispanic whites. 

Pretty wild, huh? 

How Do I Know if I am Having a Depressive Episode? 

If you’re feeling depressed, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that 16.2 million adults or about 6.7% of the population experience some kind of depressive episode in any given year. 

The good news is there are options. 

The science behind exercise and depression is incontrovertible. While people suffering from major depression might still require interventions like talk therapy or medication, exercise has proven to mitigate symptoms, improve, and even ward off recurring depression. 

The Effect of Exercise on Your Body and Mind

Harvard Health calls this the exercise effect. When you exercise, the body releases endorphins. When exercise is done consistently over time, the effects are even better. This kind of activity encourages new brain connections. Keeping the body active promotes a certain amount of brain plasticity— this means new connections in neural pathways.

So how about a little growth of your hippocampus? Yup. Exercise does that too. The same feel-good effects of the “runners-high” correlate with the drop of the stress hormones. This means you feel better. 

Moving your body also spurs other health benefits: 

  • Lowers blood pressure 
  • Helps with diabetes
  • Strengthens bones against arthritis 
  • Improves appetite 
  • Helps focus and mood

What Type of Exercise Can I Do?

So there’s even more good news. Getting your heart rate up through physical activity and exercise is beneficial no matter how you are doing it.  The type of exercise can vary and really depends on what you enjoy doing. The key is consistency. Both aerobic exercise and resistance training are beneficial for warding off depression by increasing serotonin. 

Aerobic Exercise: This type of exercise promotes cardiovascular conditioning. As the name suggests, it means “with oxygen.” Examples of this type of exercise include jogging, swimming, walking, cycling, jump roping, and more. 

Resistance Training: Other exercise regimens that include weight training or resistance training have also proved effective in helping people mitigate or ward off depressive episodes. This type of training is varied and can include anything from high-intensity interval training to more regimented programs like CrossFit or cross-training. 

The Indirect Benefits of Exercise

When engaging in regular exercise, you are also putting into motion other benefits that will help you improve overall wellness. The research suggests that engaging in exercise regularly and consistently may have long-lasting benefits in staving off depressive episodes. One study showed that adults exhibiting major depression that participated in a fitness program for 12 weeks showed greater improvements in depression, anxiety, and self-concept than those that did not.

  • Gain self-confidence. Moving your body seems to improve people’s sense of self-confidence. When you feel better internally, confidence improves. 
  • Supplement therapy and medication with a natural boost. Exercise has all-around health benefits. Coupled with talking to your therapist and taking any prescribed medications, you might be on your way towards wellness and better health. 

When You Feel Like Something is Off, Trust a Community of Therapists that Understand You

There’s a lot going on. We get it. Sometimes even a healthy and active lifestyle isn’t enough to keep those draining emotions at bay. Dealing with depression takes time. Mental health, emotions, anxiety are all complicated and there is no one way, no one solution, no magic potion to make it all better. 

But we’re all about good news here at Latinx Talk Therapy and the good news is that there is a community of therapists out there ready to help you work through it. 

Want to learn more about what we do? Call Latinx Talk Therapy today. Let us help. 

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