By: Jessica Lime, Ageility Fitness Trainer
Exercise is similar to medication when it comes to improving your mood and health. Each prescription varies depending on duration, modality, intensity and frequency3. However, each individual needs to be told which exercise routine pertains to them and most likely will need a trainer or class to guide them3. Providers cannot just tell a patient “you should exercise” and expect their patient to know all the ins and outs, telling a patient that is similar to telling them to “take these pills” without an in-depth explanation3. Exercise can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression in many different ways.
Exercise has many different benefits that help overall cognitive functions. When your body is stressed it sends a message to many different nerve connections causing your body to feel depleted as well. If you heal your body it will help heal your mind. Exercise helps your body produce endorphins which help decrease depression, lower levels of stress and anxiety (cortisol), promote weight loss, improve sleep and boost self-esteem.
Cardiovascular and aerobic exercise:
Walking is one of the easiest exercises to perform, which doesn’t require a gym or any equipment. Walking is a great way to relieve stress whether you are power walking or you are walking at a steady pace clearing your mind2. Running is also beneficial as well, it gets you to your destination faster than walking and increases your heart rate. Releasing endorphins to help heal your body and increase your positivity levels2. The American College of Sports Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest an adult to perform at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both.
Tai Chi, is a traditional Chinese practice that has been shown to benefit people who suffer from anxiety, stress and depression2. Tai chi also regulates immune functions by increasing levels of positive endorphins within the body. Tai Chi is an exercise routine anyone can do, the movements are easy, slow and repetitive, focusing on form of each movement and breathing mechanics2. This practice is known to alleviate any energy blockages within the body letting one be at peace with themselves and mindful of their proprioception2.
Pilates is a great way to release anxiety and stress to manage cortisol levels1. Pilates helps improve one’s strength, flexibility, posture and weight loss. Pilates is a method of low impact and stress on the body to help improve postural alignment, core strength and balance by relaxing overactive muscles and activate underactive muscles1. Focusing on your breath in Pilates similar to yoga; helps improve oxygen supply to the body, removes waste and toxins being trapped by insufficient blood supply1. Pilates helps one cope with stress management by decreasing our stress hormone levels such as cortisol and increase endorphin which is your bodies positive chemicals, improving your mood naturally. Overall Pilates ‘can help individuals who suffer from stress, anxiety and depression manage their chemical levels in the brain such as serotonin, cortisol and endorphins1.
1 Fleming, M., & Herring, M. (2018). The effects of pilates on mental health outcomes: A meta-analysis ofcontrolled trials. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 37, 1-3. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2018.02.003
2 Stibich, M. (2020). The Best Forms of Exercise to Improve Your Mood. Verywellmind. Retrieved from: https://www.verywellmind.com/exercise-and-improving-your-mood-2223781
3Swisher A. K. (2010). Yes, “Exercise is Medicine”….but It Is So Much More!. Cardiopulmonary physical therapy journal, 21(4), 4.