You’ve probably seen headlines claiming that regular exercise can help treat depression before, but did you know that depression is just one of many emotional and behavioral health conditions that can be managed with regular exercise? Usually, the best course of action is to add a healthy and sustainable routine that fits your needs to the other supports you use to minimize symptoms. As always, though, you should talk over any planned changes with a healthcare provider before committing to them. Here are three of the most common ways exercise can help you feel better inside and out.
1. It Improves Blood Flow To the Brain
Regular exercise improves your blood flow, even when you’re not engaged in cardio training. Most balanced workout plans call for at least some cardio, which does help increase this benefit as you train, but even regular strength training increases overall blood flow and strengthens blood vessels. As your circulatory system gets stronger and blood flow improves in those areas, it also improves a little bit overall, including in the brain. Cardio training, on the other hand, increases blood flow throughout the body by conditioning your heart for more consistent performance, even under stress. This increased blood flow increases the available oxygen to organs like your brain, which can help you feel better overall.
This increased sense of well-being is especially helpful during times of heightened stress, like when you detox from drugs. Improved blood flow to the brain allows it to function more efficiently. Generally speaking, it contributes to heightened brain function, which helps fight fatigue, depression, and other detox-related symptoms, providing important relief during a crucial phase of addiction recovery. Substance abuse workout routines are specifically designed to facilitate these effects without putting too much stress on a recovering body.
2. Exercise Increases Your Available Energy
Depression often manifests itself as a lack of energy or will to exert that energy, but regular exercise can offset those symptoms, at least in part. It’s also true that when depression strikes, routine habits are easier to maintain than goals that require you to deviate from those learned patterns. That means regular exercise makes it easier to be active when you’re depressed, and the additional energy you get from activity helps you make it through the rest of the day with lower symptoms. Over time, the benefits of regular exercise become cumulative, building up a resistance to the energy drain caused by depression and helping reduce the severity of symptoms in many patients.
3. Movement Dissipates Anxiety With Grounding Activity
Both exercise and engagement with activities that require a lot of focus can help with many forms of anxiety. One of the reasons for this is the way those activities put you in touch with your senses and your body, requiring you to focus on your immediate perceptions instead of more abstract thoughts or emotional ruminations. Many people report the sensation as a feeling of stepping outside of the anxiety because the physical symptoms that often go with it also dissipate as you become more in tune with the present moment. A regular routine helps ground out anxious energy from conditions like ADHD, making focus easier. It can also help with social anxiety and general anxiety in similar ways. Just remember to rotate your exercises so you allow muscles in each part of your body to rest for a couple days before you work them out again.
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