The Most Effective Way To Combat Stress, Anxiety and Depression
Most people know that exercise can improve physical health in many ways, from maintaining a healthy body weight and lean muscle mass to preventing obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and high blood pressure. But did you know that exercise is also one of the safest and most effective ways to combat stress, anxiety and depression?
It’s not surprising that diagnoses of mood disorders are skyrocketing. With the increasing pressures presented by social media, a lagging economy, global security concerns and climate change, there’s plenty to fuel anxiety and depression. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, about 20% of Canadians will personally experience some sort of mental illness at some point in our lives. The good news for the many who suffer from mood disorders is that regular, moderate exercise has been scientifically proven to be a more effective and longer-lasting therapy than medications.
There are several reasons exercise makes us feel better. One of them is the deep breathing techniques used in mind-body types of exercise like yoga. When we are in a heightened state of anxiety, our bodies’ fight or flight response kicks in, causing us to breathe in short, shallow breaths (also called hyperventilation). The quicker and more restricted the breath gets, the more distressed we become. Exercises that encourage deeper, slower and more mindful breathing can halt the panic cycle and create a sense of calm and wellbeing. To learn these techniques, seek out Yoga styles that focus on connecting movements to your breathing cycle, like Vinyasa or Flow classes.