At one point or another, all Canadians are either directly or indirectly affected by mental illness, depression, or anxiety. It could be you or someone you know who’s experiencing these feelings. Although it won’t completely eliminate or cure your depression and anxiety, exercising regularly and maintaining a physically active lifestyle is a great solution for easing some depression symptoms.

The Prevalence of Depression in Canada

Depression and anxiety disorders are far more prevalent in Canada than you might think. Even if someone seems to have a happy-go-lucky or positive attitude, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t facing an internal emotional battle on a daily basis.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), approximately 1 in 5 Canadians will have a personal experience with depression or mental health in any given year. They also state that about 8% of Canadian adults will directly experience depression or other forms of mental illness in their lifetimes. And, 1% of Canadian will be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, also known as “manic depression”.

How Does Exercise Help Depression?

Exercise doesn’t completely eliminate your feelings of depression, but it can help alleviate some of the symptoms either on a short- or long-term basis. Each person is unique in terms of how they respond to the effects of exercise.

When coupled with depression therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), or family therapy, keeping up a healthy and physically active lifestyle can help you improve your overall mental health.

What Are the Benefits of Exercise?

Exercise releases endorphins, which are also known as “feel good” hormones in your brain. These hormones are responsible for uplifting your mood either temporarily or permanently depending on how often you exercise.

You might think that maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine is difficult when you suffer from depression but pushing yourself to maintain an exercise routine can actually be very rewarding. Once you start to get into the groove of things and start to see positive results both physically and mentally, you’ll be more motivated to keep exercising.

And it doesn’t have to be high intensity workouts all the time either. Being physically active entails incorporating regular movement into your daily life. That can include going for short walks every day, taking the stairs instead of the elevator whenever you can, lifting items at work, going for short bike rides a few times a week, etc.

Exercising also presents you with new and exciting social opportunities such as making friends at the gym or greeting neighbours while walking around your neighbourhood. These simple, yet meaningful encounters have the power to completely uplift your spirits and even change your perspective.