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Exercise Can Improve Your Mood
last updated:
Mon, 3/28/2011 4:45 PM

Exercise seems like the last thing you want to do when you are depressed or feeling blue. But once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference.  Exercise helps prevent and improve a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. Research shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help  improve mood.

How does exercise help depression? Exercise probably helps ease depression in a number of ways, which may include:

  • Releasing feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters and endorphins)
  • Reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression
  • Increasing body temperature, which may have calming effects
  • Doing something positive to manage depression is a healthy coping strategy.

What kind of exercise is best?
The word "exercise" may make you think of running laps around the gym. But a wide range of activities that boost your activity level help you feel better. Certainly running, lifting weights, playing basketball and other fitness activities that get your heart pumping can help. But so can gardening, washing your car, or strolling around the block and other less intense activities. Anything that gets you off the couch and moving is exercise that can help improve your mood.

You don't have to do all your exercise at once, either. Add small amounts of physical activity throughout your day. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park a little farther away at work to fit in a short walk.

Take time to take care of yourself and do activities that you enjoy that will get you moving and make you feel better.

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Dawn Caldwell is a Physical Therapist in Memphis, Tennessee with Methodist Healthcare. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Call 888.777.5959 for more information.

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Methodist Healthcare is an integrated health care delivery system, dedicated to the art of healing through our faith-based commitment to minister to the whole person. 1211 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38104 • (901) 516-7000

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