womans face between two face statuesRegular exercise has been shown to help reduce the symptoms of depression. People who are diagnosed with clinical depression feel a persistent level of sadness that goes on for much longer than usual. Other symptoms characteristic of depression include withdrawal, feeling helpless, dullness, and a lack of control.


The cloud of depression can be lifted with regular exercise, with three or more sessions a week shown to act as a mood enhancer of sorts.


Most doctors are convinced that depression sufferers will benefit significantly from exercise. A survey of 1,750 doctors revealed that 85 percent of respondents had prescribed exercise as a part of treatment, with walking as the most recommended activity. Sixty percent of doctors have also prescribed exercise as a treatment for anxiety.


The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) panel has also arrived at the same conclusion that exercise is beneficial to mental health and can reduce the symptoms of mild depression.


The panel discovered that physical activity is a valuable addition to other forms of professional treatment, such as psychotherapy, electroshock, and medication. However, when combining exercise with antidepressant medicines, close medical supervision is required.


Why Does Walking Help with Depression Treatment?


Not only have regular walking sessions been shown effective at reducing symptoms of depression, but the physical activity may also help prevent its onset in the first place.


Exercise provides the participants with a sense of self-reliance, power, control, and self-mastery, according to Robert S. Brown, M.D., Ph.D., and clinical associate professor of behavioral medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. They are getting out and actively participating in their treatment and are doing something for themselves.


Actively engaging in an exercise program provides opportunities for people to set goals, measure their achievements, and pass milestones. Keeping a logbook has proven to be one of the best ways to visualize and track personal results. When writing down the speed and distance covered, they can get a clear sense of how far they have come and feel proud of their progress.


Physical exercise, like walking, can also bring about feelings of calm, well-being, and tranquillity. When walking briskly, the body produces endorphins, which are natural opiates that create feelings of euphoria. Most people will have heard this effect referred to as the “runner’s high.”


Endorphins are tiny neurochemicals produced by the central nervous system and pituitary gland. They act on the brain’s opiate receptors to have the effect of reducing pain and increasing pleasurable feelings.


woman in sunlight with arms open wideExperiencing stress or pain will trigger the release of endorphins, but they are also released during periods of physical activity.


A brisk walk is an excellent strategy depressed people can use to distract them from their symptoms, such as sadness.  Strong strides help strengthen the walker’s confidence, but the exercise is also an essential component of weight control and building muscle tone.


When depression sufferers know that they are actively building a healthier, fitter body, it can go a long way towards lifting their spirits. Walking provides proven health benefits, but it’s also one of the least strenuous exercises. Unlike weightlifting or CrossFit, walking makes you feel good while you are doing it, not just after the routine.


Treatment Options to Lift Stubborn Depression


When you’re feeling blue, it can be difficult to get started with a walking or exercise program. In addition, once you’re able to get into a more active routine, exercise alone may not be enough to ease your symptoms.


Counseling can provide you with more tools to help you lift your mood and feel better about yourself. If you or a loved one would like to learn more about therapy options to ease symptoms of depression, read more here: Depression Treatment