Exercise for Mood and Anxiety

To have good health is to be healthy in both mind and body. Exercise in general is a healthy choice when seeking to live healthily as eating and sleeping. In the United States of America, the Mood and Anxiety disorders account for the most common psychiatric conditions. Exercising for your health, as a new and alternative treatment, is cost effective and beneficial for all; the individual, community and the country.

Exercise Workout

Commonly Used Methods of Interventions

It is well-known that psychological and pharmacological treatments are the most commonly used methods of interventions for these disorders. Despite the interventions, many individuals do not respond to these treatments and therefore it is advisable that exercise be incorporated in the treatment.

Major depressive disorder (MDD) affects approximately 6.7% of the population in a given year and costs employers more than $51 billion per year in absenteeism and lost. In a given year, the anxiety disorders affect approximately 18% of the population and substantially cost the society through increased health-care utilization and costs.

A good deal of research have been done to evaluate the benefits of utilizing the common methods of interventions and mental health in comparison to combining them with exercises. They indicate that 19% to 34% of depressed patients do not respond or only partially respond to antidepressants or cognitive behavioral therapy and 14% to 43% of anxiety disorder patients do not respond to treatment. Further, about half of individuals do not seek treatment for anxiety or depressive symptoms due to lack of access, stigma or cost of treatment.

Effects of Regular Exercises Or Exercise Interventions

Several studies have examined the effects of exercise interventions on anxiety sensitivity levels. One such study found that six 20-min sessions of high-intensity aerobic exercise significantly decreased anxiety sensitivity scores as compared to a no-exercise control condition. Another study revealed that a two-week exercise intervention, as well as a two-week exercise in addition to cognitive restructuring intervention led to clinically significant changes in anxiety sensitivity levels compared to a wait list condition. This study also provided evidence that the effects of exercise on both anxious and depressed moods alone was equally effective as when combined with cognitive restructuring. The endorphins – feel good hormones are released in the brain making you feel good about yourself and your mind is taken away from your worries when you do exercises.

How Much Exercise Do You Really Need?

Exercising for 30 minutes or more for three to five days a week may significantly improve symptoms of depression or anxiety. Even lesser amounts of exercise for example 10 – 15 minutes show improvement in symptoms especially if you do more-vigorous forms of exercises like running, swimming or bicycling.  The important key factor is to be regular and consistent with exercise to benefit physically and mentally over the long term.

Studies suggest that improvement in mood and positive affect occur as early as 5 min post-exercise and can last for hours following a single bout of moderate-intensity exercise. In addition, pleasure experienced during exercise has been shown to promote maintenance of exercise behaviors even a year after initially involving in regular exercises. A recent review indicates that self-selected intensities of exercise tend to promote more pleasure and greater adherence to exercise regimens. These findings collectively indicate that mood enhancement recommendations may not only promote initiation of exercise routines but also maintenance of these routines.

Physical activities or exercises provide improvement in health, and the mood benefits, even though they are not the same thing. By exercise, persons usually think of a structured or planned set of activities that are repetitive like going to the gym and lifting weights, running, or  playing games which increase your breathing and heart rate.  Physical activities refer to anything you do, like climbing the stairs or simply walking or doing house chores. Doing small bouts of activities like these can affect your mood or emotions positively.

Dancing – a form of Exercise

In spite of the evidence that exercise produces both mood and health benefits, many individuals fail to adhere to exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that approximately one-third of the population remains sedentary; that is, they engage in absolutely no leisure time physical activity. The high rates of sedentary behavior may be due to the challenging contingency between exercise recommendations and their subsequent recognized health benefits; indeed, there exists a substantial delay between engaging in regular exercise and noticing the associated health benefits (i.e., changes in weight, fitness, and cardiovascular health) and that may be one reason why more persons fail to exercise regularly.

Who Needs Psycho Education?

The immediate mood benefits provided by exercise may also be much more noticeable than physical health benefits for patients suffering from mood and anxiety disorders; thus stressing these benefits is important for treatment providers to break down the non belief in the efficacy of exercise for treating anxiety and depressive symptoms. As patients may not have knowledge of the mood benefits of exercise, psycho education may be an important early intervention for these groups. Psycho education refers to the process of providing education and information to those seeking or receiving mental health services, for example people diagnosed with mental health conditions (or life-threatening/terminal illnesses) and their family members.

Health practitioners and medical institutions have a responsibility to advocate strongly the benefits of adhering to regular exercise programs and its impact on the quality of life to be obtained from it.  Population-based studies provide evidence of the link between exercise and mood benefits. In a study of 55,000 adults in the United States and Canada, lower anxiety and depression levels were evident in individuals completing more physical activity.

Results from population-based studies in other countries replicate these findings and suggest that more physical activity is linked to less anger, less distrust, and an increased sense of social integration.  Studies likewise show that individuals who engage in more physical activity have lower rates of psychiatric disorders, whereas data provide evidence that individuals with psychiatric disorders benefit from exercise interventions.







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