It's well known that exercise that gets your blood flowing is good for your heart and overall health. Now a recent study shows how aerobic exercise and muscle-strengthening activities can boost your mood as well.
Cleveland Clinic's doctor Scott Bea says when we get moving, we release feel-good chemicals in our brains.
"We know that vigorous exercise, vigorous aerobic exercise, we're releasing endorphins, pain-relieving substances; we suspect that other mood-regulating chemicals are being released as well -serotonin, mood-regulating chemical; dopamine -feel-good chemical. We think all of those can be byproducts of activity and exercise in particular, so there are biological explanations for this," he said.
The study looks at data on nearly 18,000 adults.
Researchers found when people performed a combination of physical activity such as walking, running and cycling, in combination with muscle-strengthening exercises, they had lower levels of depressive symptoms compared to people who didn't exercise.
Dr. Bea says either aerobic exercise or lifting weights can help ward off depression, but this study shows when you combine them, the protective effects are even greater. However, he says for people struggling with depression, it's often difficult to get up and get moving.
If you're having a hard time getting motivated, Dr. Bea suggests taking advantage of the changing seasons. He says it can be helpful to spend more time outdoors after being cooped up all winter.
"We see other people outside - walking, walking their dogs, riding their bikes - we haven't seen that, so there are other people modeling greater forms of activity. We start to do home repairs to the outside of our house; getting gardens ready, cleanup for our yards for the spring, so there's this boost in activity that's promoting those good chemicals in our brain too."
If you don't want to go to the gym you can do some yard cleanup instead.
There are a lot of home workout options you can find online that can show you how to get in some aerobic activity and do some resistance training without going anywhere.
The doctor says if exercise isn't part of your routine, it could take two months for it to become a habit that you routinely enjoy and look forward to.