If you're dealing with depression or anxiety, perhaps one of the best things you can do to ease your symptoms is work up a sweat. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise can greatly reduce depression and anxiety in individuals as it reduces stress, improves sleep and raises self-esteem levels. Getting active releases feel-good chemicals, endorphins, into the brain which reduce our perception of pain and releases positive feelings. They have similar effects on our brain as morphine, actually.
But the benefits don't stop when you're done sweating. A study published in the Journal of Neuroscience found that exercise, like running, can quiet down anxiety in the long run since it creates more excitable neurons in the brain, as well as more neurons that inhibit brain activity and reduce anxiety. The authors of the study also noted that active animals have more neurotransmitters in the hippocampus — the area of the brain thought to be the center of emotions, memory, and the autonomic nervous system — to process their emotions, which helps better deal with anxiety and depression.
In less scientific ways, exercise can also keep anxious and depressive thoughts at bay by simply providing a distraction and a chance for you to clear your head. When you're in the middle of a run or a Zumba class, chances are your mind won't keep racing back to the stressors of everyday life. Instead, you'll be focusing on the physical task at hand. Exercise also gives you an opportunity to set goals to work toward, which will help you feel better about yourself as you achieve them.
Now, this is not to say a sweat session will rid someone of depression and anxiety. But it may be able reduce them and make them easier to manage. And certain types of exercise may be even more beneficial to reducing anxiety and depression. These five workouts are extra great at leaving you feel calm, happy and ready to go.