Many people with depression and anxiety hear that all they need to do is exercise to feel better. This is, of course, not true, and proper treatment is needed for the improvement of diagnosed mental disorders.
But what if there was a nugget of truth in the concept of exercise being good for your mental health? As it turns out, this might be the case! But is it effective? Can exercise protect the brain against depression and anxiety? Science says so, and here’s how!
1. HOW THE EXERCISE OF YOGA PROTECTS THE BRAIN
You’ve probably heard time and time again that doctors recommend yoga to reduce many forms of mental strain. While it’s certainly not a magical cure-all, it is capable of helping. It’s low-risk and great for relaxation, with apparent benefits typically popping up after only one or two sessions.
Yoga involves the act of deep breathing, core strengthening, and flexibility. It essentially forces you to calm your mind and slow down, which is beneficial to anxiety, stress, and depression. When you need to focus on deliberate movements and mindful breathing, it’s easier to release negative emotions.
The versatility of yoga adds to its appeal. There are gentle routines and challenging ones, with plenty along the difficulty spectrum in between. Still, its unifying features of balancing and stretching poses, meditative periods, and controlled breathing exercises have all been useful for anxiety and depression.
HERE ARE THREE STUDIES THAT AGREE:
“YOGA AS A COMPLEMENTARY TREATMENT OF DEPRESSION: EFFECTS OF TRAITS AND MOODS ON TREATMENT OUTCOME” PUBLISHED IN EVIDENCE-BASED COMPLEMENTARY AND ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE (2007).
This study revealed that individuals who take yoga classes experience significantly lowered neurotic symptoms, depression, anxiety, and anger, leading to improved positive thinking. In fact, the study winds up recommending yoga as a form of complementary depressive disorder treatment.
“THE EFFECTS OF YOGA ON ANXIETY AND STRESS” PUBLISHED IN ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE REVIEW (2012).
This small review of research trials was meant to examine how stress and anxiety are affected by yoga. It found that in the 35 of the studies examined, 25 of them had their participants enjoying decreased symptoms of anxiety and reduced stress after beginning to practice yoga.
“MODERN POSTURAL YOGA AS A MENTAL HEALTH PROMOTING TOOL: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW” PUBLISHED IN COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIES IN CLINICAL PRACTICE (2018).