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Help Tame Depression with Exercise

By Pfizer Medical Team

As a key dimension of Wellness, exercise has been proven to help treat a variety of mental and physical health issues.

You probably know that exercise can help us lose weight and reduce blood pressure. You might even know that it can help improve our immunity and fight infection. But did you know that physical exercise directly benefits the brain, especially the parts that control our mood? It can also boost brain functioning and increase brain size

Scientists have studied physical exercise in people with major depression. Studies show that exercise can (although it is not guaranteed to):

  • Improve the effects on mood in people of all ages
  • Help reduce symptoms of depression in all people
  • Benefit people with all types of depression—mild, moderate or severe

The challenges of getting started

You might have trouble finding the motivation to exercise. After all, depression can cause disturbed sleep, reduced energy, appetite changes, body aches and pain.

Here a few tips that may help:

  • Start small. Even 5 minutes of walking or any other activity is a way to get started. Try to focus on taking that first step, or lifting that one weight. Who knows, that 5 minutes can turn into 10 minutes, and so on.
  • Set realistic goals. If you’re limited in your physical abilities, doing leg lifts while sitting in your chair or other chair exercises may be what’s right for you. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before starting any new physical activity.
  • Switch things up. If you find yourself getting bored with your exercise routine, try something different. Think yoga, dancing, or hiking.
  • Choose something fun. Do what you like to do. If you like dancing, take a dance class or turn on the music at home and get shaking.
  • Track your mood. When it comes to exercise and mood, the benefits are immediate. Think about recording your mood before and after your workouts so you can see the difference.

Want to get started with becoming more active?

Download this tool.

Exercise: A Natural High

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Following these recommendations should be under the care of your physician, as results may vary.

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Pappadopulos, PhD, Global Medical Affairs, Pfizer

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