Physical activity why does it help? It’s tough to pinpoint just exactly why aerobic exercise is so helpful in reducing depression, anxiety, and stress. It might be easier to think of the problem another way. Incidents of depression and anxiety have continued to increase as we have decreased our overall physical activity. We began creating more sophisticated machines to do our most difficult, menial and dangerous work beginning about the mid-1700s. Prior to that, going back to the beginning of mankind, most people’s daily lives were filled with very intense physical activity. That physical activity often started in childhood. That may also be why children are so affected by depression today. I’m not suggesting that we go back to those days. There are lots of reasons why we continue to try to make work and lifeless strenuous and dangerous. For one thing, it allows more people to participate and contribute by working. And people can work longer into old age. But as our machines have gotten more sophisticated people have become far less physically active. Today’s most advanced machines are computers and they are everywhere. You often don’t have to exert yourself physically to work, engage with other people, find entertainment or learn new things. That is amazing. But the consequences of that lifestyle are that you will exert yourself less and less, or maybe not at all. Given how effective exercise can be in beating depression it’s no wonder that not exercising can lead to an increase in it.
For those of you that are able, find ways to include 90 minutes a week of aerobic exercise however you choose to do that. Find a partner or group of people to help you stay motivated. Cheer on each other’s success. If you’re in counseling, discuss with your therapist how to incorporate exercise into your life. Reach out to your doctor if you have concerns about any physical limitations you might have. Engage a personal trainer to keep you motivated. They’re great and finding creative ways to keep the exercise from becoming boring. Whatever you do, get out and get better!