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Moving isn’t Depressing: How Exercise reduces Depression Signs.

Depression: Signs are in the Physical as well

Depression, Looking through the window

Depression, along with anxiety, are two of the widespread mental health diseases that is present globally. The population who suffer from depression showed a steady increase by 14% in a span of 10 years (2007 to 2017). The World Health Organization (WHO) statistics shows that depression is present in 322 million in the entire world (Bellón, Conejo-Cerón, & Sánchez-Calderón, et al., 2021).


Solving depression has been a long, recurring process because of the overwhelming signs that plunge patients in a state of downness and extreme sadness and emotional trauma. The path to healing mostly involve medication (anti-depressants, tons of prescription medicine and so forth), mixed in with therapy (counselling, CBT, DBT, emotional support, etc.). Depression is not only a state of deep emotional distress, but there are links that depression also negatively affects physical health. Depression is linked to chronic physical illnesses like pain in joints, limbs, and stomach issues (Trivedi, 2004). Depression has been correlated in to major diseases like cancer and diabetes as well, which further shows that depression is deeply rooted in our physical health, which makes it increasingly more difficult to determine how depression escalates.

Exercise: The antidepressant effect – How exercise reduces depression signs.

Exercise against depression

Exercise, despite being a method to achieve physical health and well-being, is linked to a method of reducing depression and lessening the signs linked to depressive behavior. More studies tackle how exercising influences psychological, physical, behavioral, neurochemical, and other factors. According to the study by Mote (2023), and Xie, Wu, Sun, Zhou, (2021) that exercise provides benefits in improving cognitive functions, physical wellness, and mood & behavior that are signs of improving mental well-being.

According to the mentioned studies, exercise also improves self-worth and self-esteem through positive reinforcement through feedback during exercise sessions (group exercises), satisfaction in achieving and doing something good and improves mood, that leads to better physical manifestations like getting better sleep, eating healthy, and engaged in more exercise.

Lastly, a study by North, McCullagh, & Tran (1990) states the main reason why exercise is a great method of reducing and managing depression: Endorphins. Endorphins are basically hormones that are secreted by the brain and parts of the endocrine system that provide a sensation that is like morphine. These hormones are usually released during different activities, but studies show that the more exercise we are involved in, the less depression takes an effect because of it increases that endorphins we release.

To summarize, exercise is a great method to improve physical and mental health. Not only do we regulate the state of our body and get in better peak condition, but we also regulate our body systems that improve our confidence, self-perception, and mood stability which helps improve our overall well-being and redirects our attention to more positive and therapeutical things. This does not assure that depression is completely removed, but this is the one of the steps in taking a path to healing for mental health disorders.



Bellón JÁ, Conejo-Cerón S, Sánchez-Calderón A, et al. Effectiveness of exercise-based interventions in reducing depressive symptoms in people without clinical depression: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. The British Journal of Psychiatry. 2021;219(5):578-587. doi:10.1192/bjp.2021.5

NORTH, T. CHRISTIAN Ph.D.; McCULLAGH, PENNY Ph.D; TRAN, ZUNG VU Ph.D.. Effect of Exercise on Depression. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews 18(1):p 379-416, January 1990.


Trivedi MH. The link between depression and physical symptoms. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2004;6(Suppl 1):12-6. PMID: 16001092; PMCID: PMC486942.

Xie, Y., Wu, Z., Sun, L., Zhou, L., Wang, G., Xiao, L., & Wang, H. (2021). The effects and mechanisms of exercise on the treatment of depression. Frontiers in Psychiatry12. 

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