Suffering from depression can cause you to feel hopeless, worthless, irritable and tired. You may have difficulty falling or staying asleep, and your disrupted sleep patterns will increase fatigue and negatively impact your already low mood. Your depression will have you believing that there’s no hope in sight, but help may be right outside your front door.
How Exercise and Sports Can Help
When you’re feeling depressed, the last thing you want to do is to get out and move around or spend time with people, and yet, that’s the very thing you need to do. Participating in sports will not only help you get some much-needed sunlight, fresh air, and exercise, but you’ll meet new friends and have fun doing it.
For some people, exercise alone can be an effective treatment for their depression. Along with the many health benefits provided by regular exercise, your mental health will also benefit. Regular exercise releases the body’s endorphins, which help to relieve pain while inducing feelings of pleasure or euphoria. The right exercises can also improve mood by reducing the activity of the stress hormone cortisol, which, when in excess, can make you more susceptible to stress and impairs your brain’s ability to function properly.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, just 2.5 hours of moderate to vigorous activity a week will cause you to have a deeper sleep. Better sleep will improve your mood during the day and cause you to feel more alert and increase concentration.
Depression can often cause you to withdraw from friends and family, isolating yourself. But we all have a profound need to connect with others and feel a sense of belonging. Making the effort to interact socially through sports activity can help distract you from your worries while you have fun and make new friends.
How to Get Started
Take baby steps. A 5-10 minute walk is a great start to get yourself moving and motivated. When you feel ready, think back to when you were a kid and the fun activities you used to do to find inspiration for sports you’d like to participate in as an adult. Look for yoga, water aerobics or workout classes, or sign up for a neighborhood softball, basketball or flag football league. You can also look into dancing classes or dance groups, such as line dancing. Start with the activities you previously enjoyed or new activities you may have had interest in trying. Check the sports category on Meetup.com to find a sport that’s fun and familiar, or new and unique. You can even make a post on your neighborhood app to start a group of your own.
More Research Needed
Although many studies point to the countless health benefits of sports participation, further research is still needed on the impact of exercise on depression. Exercise alone may not be enough to treat your depression but it is a highly recommended lifestyle change for added support in improving mood. If you’re struggling with depression and need some help, please give me a call today so we can set up an appointment to talk.