Depression is one of the most serious diseases of our time. Yes, it is likely that stress and nervous disorders were in earlier times. But, first, they did not receive so much attention, they all seemed far-fetched and artificial. And secondly, a very rapid leap in the development of civilization, technological progress, a huge flow of information from everywhere, which must be “digested” – this can really lead today to the appearance of a depressive state. And you know what helps relieve stress? Exercise stress! We decided to find out in more detail whether it is possible to get rid of depression with the help of sports, and what types of physical exertion will be the most effective.
Can stress overcome physical activity?
To answer this question, you first need to figure out in more detail where the stress and depression come from . Australian scientists, having conducted a number of studies, say that it manifests itself due to the rupture of the subtlest connections between the nerve cells of our brain. These bonds become thinner due to many factors, and then completely broken. Discontinuity, apathy, loss of strength and mood, and too many breaks can lead to nervous breakdowns, prolonged depressive states, clouding of consciousness, and even suicidal intent.
And one of the most important risk factors for the manifestation of depression can be called the lack of motor activity. This is not surprising, because our musculoskeletal system and the central nervous system are very closely related to each other, and many brain functions will directly depend on the activity of a particular muscle group. Proof of this can be at least the fact that during walking you can memorize much more information than at rest. Because, by the way, many people recommend during runs, walks and other types of physical exertion, and just to get to work or to another destination to listen to useful audio books.
But back to the depression. Having found one of the main causes of the depressive state, the scientists set out to turn everything the other way around, that is, to try to prove that high physical activity and regular forms of physical activity can really deal with stress, neurosis and depression if it has already manifested itself. The New York State Department of Mental Hygiene has done an analysis of previous research over the past 25 years, and also added its own experiments. It turned out that regular workouts are really effective exercises in the treatment of depression.
At the same time, it showed the greatest efficacy in coping with stress, physical activity is of medium intensity. In subjects under constant occupations, the metabolism was restored, the hormonal background returned to normal, the body’s defenses increased, and inflammatory markers decreased. The sugar level returned to normal, which automatically relieved muscle tension, increased the flow of oxygen to the brain, which increased mental performance, produced endorphins that increase mood. But what kinds of physical activity will really be most effective if you need to use them in the fight against depression?
The best types of physical activity to fight depression
Any physical work, one way or another, will distract you from “digging” in your thoughts, and this is already a big plus for relaxation. Focusing on movements and your sporting achievements can really help overcome stress on your own. And besides, physical activity will help strengthen the connections between neurons in order to avoid manifestations of depression in the future. What will help overcome stress? Which exercise plan will be most useful?
- Running and walking
These are the types of physical activity that showed the best results in the fight against depression in the studies of the New York Department of Mental Hygiene. Too intensive classes, such as interval or functional training, crossfit or power loads would hardly give such a result. The body and without the load is already quite exhausted by depression, and too much stress can plunge both the body and the brain into even greater stress. But running or walking, a walk with a quick walk, even for 20-30 minutes will really help to relax. These cardio loads, if they are regular, train the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, develop physical endurance, and also saturate the brain with oxygen.
Not to mention swimming. The very presence in the water is already able to give complete relaxation: the musculoskeletal system relaxes, tension is removed from the spine, all joints and muscles, and “hydro-weightlessness” occurs when you feel incredible lightness throughout your body. In addition, being in water allows you to relax and brain – at the level of instincts, because the body of the child in the womb all 9 months, too, is in the water. In the pool you are already enveloped by a sense of security and tranquility. Well, active swimming will make all the muscles of the body work and bring the forms in order. It is not necessary to work immediately for wear, it is enough to swim for your own pleasure or to perform several effective exercises from an aqua aerobics course in water.
And, of course, we could not say about yoga – any asana (posture) will have a relaxing effect. The whole essence of yoga is to find harmony between the physical body and the inner spirit, and therefore yoga classes will be ideal if you are constantly in suspense and can not relax. Yoga has many directions, it is better to start with classical hatha yoga in order to learn the basics of this philosophy. And if you want something more dynamic, there is power yoga (with the inclusion of strength exercises in the program), fit yoga (more dynamic with elements of fitness), dance yoga (dance steps), fly yoga (yoga on canvases) and even yoga in the water.
The most effective exercises to overcome stress
If you are far from traditional forms of physical exertion — from a treadmill, a swimming pool, or from a yoga class, and stress covers you unexpectedly, there are quite effective first-aid exercises to overcome it.
- Stretch your shoulders
Most often, stress and panic attacks overtake us when the muscles of the neck and shoulders are clamped – oxygen does not flow to the brain, all nerves are extremely tense. Such exercises will help : stand up straight, straighten your shoulders, put palms on your shoulders. Now inhale deeply and, on inhaling, start lifting your shoulders up very slowly, and tilting your head back. On the exhale, do the opposite: return the head to its original position, and lower your hands. Repeat this way from 5 to 10 times – as long as it takes to relieve tension from the neck, shoulders and back.
- Reach for the sky
The starting position is also standing. Put your legs shoulder-width apart or slightly wider so that you feel maximum stability. Slowly inhale the air with a full chest, and in the meantime raise your hands up through the sides or forward (as you prefer), trying to reach for them as far as possible. You can even stand on socks and head back up, too. On the exhale, return to the starting position, but do not “throw” yourself down, but lower slowly. Ideally, exhalation should be longer than inhalation.
- Breathe deeply
Do not just go deeper, but try to breathe with your stomach and take it to yourself at the same time. Deep breathing is exactly what allows you to cope with the most powerful panic attacks, when it seems that there is not enough air. Inhale on the count from 1 to 4-5, hold the breath for 3-4 seconds, filling the lungs to the maximum, and then exhale the air even slower than you inhaled – on the count from 1 to 6-7. Fill the stomach with air first, and then the lungs, but on the exhale, do the opposite – first release the lungs and only then the stomach.