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Running Head: Exercise and Depression
Effects of Exercising on Depression
Most people are familiar with the common benefits of exercise. Exercise aids in the prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease as well as helping to attain a physically fit and attractive body. However, many people may not know that doctors often prescribe exercise to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. According to the Mayo Clinic, depression is defined as “a serious illness that causes changes in mood, thinking, physical well-being and behavior. It can affect all aspects of a person's life. It is caused by a complex set of physical, psychological and environmental factors. (Depression, ¶ 4). The symptoms of depression vary from person to person but generally include sadness, anxiety, irritability, stress, fatigue, anger, and feelings of hopelessness. Many doctors who study and treat depression claim that the inclusion of an exercise regime often benefits their patients as much as medication and other types of therapy. Exercise changes the body’s chemistry, builds self confidence, acts as a positive distraction, and can create social interactions.
Exercise can vary in type and duration, but it has many different effects on the body and the mind. Many people think that exercise is reserved for gyms and fitness centers, but any physical activity done for at least 30 minutes a day can improve the symptoms of depression. Exercise can be done in a gym or fitness center, but exercise can be as simple a taking a walk around the neighborhood, gardening, riding a bicycle, weightlifting, rock climbing, swimming, and many other activities. “Small bouts of exercise [as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time] may be a great way to get started,” states Dr. Vickers-Douglas (as quoted by Mayo Clinic Staff, 2007). By focusing the mind and body on a rhythmic activity, and individual can relieve symptoms...