Exercise For Depression, Dementia and a Healthy Brain

Man sitting on gym bench suffering depression.

Exercise helps prevent and improve a wide range of health problems, from high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis to depression, anxiety and dementia. Exercise provides many more benefits than aerobic fitness and muscle size. While losing weight and improving your physique is great, most people exercise because of the enormous well-being it provides.

Regular exercise helps you feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night and boosts your overall mood. Like mental stimulation, physical activity is essential for your overall brain health, ensuring you better retain memories and maintain cognitive skills as you grow older.

 

Exercise and Depression

The benefits of regular exercise for managing or preventing depression is well-documented, although the precise reasons are not clear. A combination of a number of factors can contribute to the development of depression, including biological factors (such as family history, serious medical illness or drug and alcohol use), early childhood experiences, personality factors, recent stressful life events and other personal factors.

Regular exercise may help ease depression and anxiety by:

  • Releasing feel-good endorphins, serotonin and other natural brain chemicals that can enhance your sense of well-being.
  • Providing a healthy way to cope and manage your feelings as opposed to drinking alcohol, using drugs or dwelling on how you feel.
  • Taking your mind off worries so you can get away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed depression and anxiety.
  • Gaining confidence, purpose and a sense of accomplishment through setting and meeting exercise goals.

Doing 30 minutes of physical exercise three to five days a week, such as walking, jogging, bike riding or lifting weights at home can help. You don’t necessarily have to participate in formal exercise programs. However, participation in sports and exercise classes can provide the additional benefit of social interaction that can also help some people with depression.

 

Exercise and Dementia

According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent. Exercise for dementia patients can even slow further deterioration for those already with cognitive problems. Exercise protects against dementia by stimulating your brain’s ability to maintain old connections as well as establish new ones.

Aim for around 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. This should involve a combination of cardio exercise and strength training. High intensity exercise is best as it increases brain blood flow more than continuous exercise workouts. Moderate levels of weight and resistance training are also good for maintaining brain health. For those over 65, adding two to three strength sessions to every week can cut your risk of Alzheimer’s in half.

 

Psychology and Health Advice in Melbourne or Sydney

Pinnacle Health Group provides a range of services including psychology, physiotherapy, massage, clinical Pilates, yoga and more in multiple locations across Victoria and New South Wales. If you’re injured or need health advice, book an appointment from one of our CBD based health clinics or join a wellness class near you.

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