It’s recommended that you do 30 minutes of exercise five days a week to stay healthy! This is often recommended to people with a high risk of Type 2 Diabetes or developing a Cardiovascular Disease, however, it is also amazing for mental health issues and here’s why:
Sunlight fights depression
Sunlight helps to produce Vitamin D and serotonin, which are two essential chemicals in the body. Whilst Vitamin D is good for growing and maintaining healthy bones, serotonin regulates mood and low levels of it cause depression. In fact, there is a condition called ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ which is believed to be caused by low serotonin levels as a result of lack of sunlight during Winter. It has symptoms of low mood, fatigue and is similar to depression but it only comes in a seasonal cycle. Some sufferers swear by sun lamps like these to combat symptoms. However, going for a walk during the day is a free way of increasing your serotonin levels.
Long walks on the beach
Personally, I find walking on the beach to be extremely relaxing. Listening to the waves crashing is a very mindful practice which can soothe anxiety. This isn’t a reason to walk but perhaps a suggestion; if you aren’t sure where to walk then head to the beach. Take your shoes off and walk with your feet in the sand, I promise that you will feel connected to nature. And at the end of your walk, you could sit on the sand and have a few minutes of meditation or reflection, with the water’s calming sound in the background.
Exercise releases endorphins
Exercise releases endorphins, which are responsible for creating the feeling of pleasure, along with other neurotransmitters like serotonin. Consequently, by walking five days a week, you will be raising your serotonin level, which is thought to lower the severity of your depression.
A study at Duke University found that exercise (around 30 minutes, five days a week) was as effective as antidepressant medication – making it a great, natural treatment option for depression. However, different patients respond differently to treatment for psychological disorders, therefore what works for one person might not work for another. Whilst lifestyle changes seem easy, they can be very challenging and medication might be the best choice. For example, lifestyle modifications in those with Type 2 Diabetes were more effective than medication, but many people are unwilling to completely overhaul their life – which is understandable.
Tire yourself out
When I was suffering from extreme anxiety, I struggled to get to sleep at night. I was full of adrenaline and I had no outlet for it, but I noticed that walking used up some of my energy and that night I would fall asleep much easier. In addition, walking doesn’t require a commitment, it’s not like a 45 minute gym class – you can stop whenever you feel like it.
Have a walking partner
You should find a family member or friend to go walking with, not only will this keep you motivated (as it’s less easy to back out of an arranged walk), but also it will make the walk more fun. You could use the walk to chat and get all your worries out, or on the other hand, you could use it as a time to have a laugh with your friend – whatever suits. This is a great way for you to get out and socialise if you are feeling down, especially since depression can be such an isolating illness. The people close to you should be more than happy to help you in your journey to recovery.
It’s an anxiety-free way to exercise and get out of the house
When I was extremely anxious, I was constantly nauseas and would vomit a lot – this is due to an increase in stomach acid when adrenaline hits, which makes you feel queasy. I hated being in public at this time, but when I was outside I felt much better as it wouldn’t matter so much if I was sick. As a result, I began walking regularly as I had no fear of being sick which made me significantly less anxious.
I hope that the benefits of walking appeal to you! Give walking a try and stick with it for a few weeks, the worst thing that can happen is that you get a bit fitter. Some people believe that walking decreased the severity of their depression and I’m inclined to agree that it is a great way to combat it – natural, free and healthy. However, this is not a cure for depression and will not work for everyone, but with so many positive reviews and reasons, give it a try and you might find it really helps you out. It’s also important to note, that some people may not be in a place where it is possible to go out for a walk. I have found myself unable to leave the house for quite some time, but when I got out of the crisis stage, I pushed myself to go for walks which greatly benefited me.
IF FLOWERS CAN TEACH THEMSELVES HOW TO BLOOM AFTER WINTER PASSES, SO CAN YOU