It’s no debate that physical exercise is good for the body. You burn fat, you burn calories, you boost your metabolism, you slow your heart rate, you reduce your chance for developing illnesses later on in life, you supply more oxygen to your body, and best of all – you feel good when it’s over. However, the part of the body that benefits most from exercise is the brain itself.
Studies show that aerobic activity (any kind of workout that helps you maintain an accelerated heart-rate for at least fifteen minutes) can help reduce anxiety and depression. You won’t often get the results immediately after a workout, but after a four-or-five week regimen of aerobic exercise and healthy eating, you will see a drastic reduction in the effects of anxiety and depression on your life. Your body and your mind will benefit.
A recent study at Duke University put these ideas up to the test. They selected a group of people with depression to follow a four-week aerobic training schedule (30 minutes, three times a week.) Another group of people with depression were merely given medications to treat their condition. At the end of the study, 60% of the first group claimed to have overcome their depression without medication. 60% of the people who were on medications reported the same results, but obviously lacked the other physical benefits you gain from aerobic exercise.
Physical exercise helps your body produce some of the chemicals your brain needs in order to function at its fullest. Without those chemicals, you will quickly thereafter sink back in to depression and anxiety. And probably the best thing of all – working out is free. You don’t have to go to the doctor and you don’t have to buy expensive prescriptions. Ride your bike for a half hour, three or four times a week. Go for a jog. Do some push-ups and pull-ups. Strengthen your body and your mind.