How Exercise can help you

How can exercise help with depression?

An hour on the cross trainer, aerobics, yoga, tennis - can these activities in the gym really help us to ward off, and even treat, mild to moderate depression?

Yes! A regular programme of exercise can help us to recover from depression - lifting our mood, reducing anxiety and improving self-esteem and concentration. And frequent exercise can help us to protect ourselves against becoming depressed in the first place.

"A regular programme of exercise can help us to recover from depression”

Depression is a common problem affecting 1 in 6 of us at some point in our lifetime and is the biggest mental health problem in the UK today. Often described as a persistent low mood, depression can make people feel unable to cope and hopeless about the future. People who are depressed often lose their appetite and have difficulty sleeping, feel guilty or worthless, and become easily anxious and tired.

Today it is widely accepted that taking exercise is good for our physical health. However, it is not so widely understood that exercise can benefit our mental health too. Yet exercise acts as a preventative medicine against anxiety and depression, and a strong immune system makes the mind better able to cope with life's stresses and strains. There are a number of reasons why this is.

  • Exercise leads to an increased release of endorphins in the body. These chemicals may help combat depression and make us feel happier.
  • Exercise helps us to get active and meet new people. This stops us from feeling isolated and unsupported.
  • Exercise can give us new skills and goals and a sense of purpose - we have something positive to focus on and aim for.
  • Exercise can boost our self-esteem - it can improve the way we look and how we feel about ourselves.

Copyright © 2007 Mental Health Foundation

This information has been provided by the Mental Health Foundation, a leading UK charity that provides information, carries out research, campaigns and works to improve services for anyone affected by mental health problems, whatever their age and wherever they live.

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Swimming and Cycling

Everyday CyclingEveryday Cycling offers a comprehensive database of Routes and Rides. You will also find details of cycling events and interactive features such as Activity Logs and Buddy Groups to inspire you to get pedaling!

SwimfitSwimfit, a British Swimming project, is full of advice and fun programmes to help you to structure your time in the pool and to encourage you to take the plunge!