Subject:  One of the most effective treatment strategies for anxiety and depression!

Learn just how significant exercise plays a role in managing your mind.

First let’s understand the physiological impact of anxiety and depression (A&D). They can create a host of issues in the body and vice versa, physiological conditions can bring on A&D.  It is known that A&D decreases the resiliency of the immune system and increases the level of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body.

National Institute of Mental Health(1) identifies that some of the physiological symptoms can include:

  • Headaches
  • Lethargy/Chronic Fatigue
  • Decreased appetite/uncontrollable binge eating
  • Insomnia/excessive sleep
  • Increased pain or sensitivity to pain
  • Increased level of hormone cortisol
  • Decreased immune system function

Unfortunately, many of these symptoms can lead to a wide array of diseases and illnesses.  Additionally, it is widely known in the medical community that those suffering from A&D can have low levels of endorphins, including serotonin and dopamine.

“Research on anxiety, depression and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise reduce anxiety and improves one’s mood.” (Mayo Clinic-2)  Exercise in general triggers the specific neurotransmitters that the depressed or anxious individual may be lacking.  Dr. Mercola states:

“During exercise, a number of neurotransmitters are triggered, such as endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, and GABA. Some of these are well-known for their role in mood control. Exercise, in fact, is one of the most effective prevention and treatment strategies for depression.” (3)

Serotonin & dopamine are the two most commonly discussed neurotransmitters and the impact on the body and the brain. They are the “feel good” hormones.   Serotonin helps to stabilize blood pressure, digestion, regulating body temperature & sleep and also assists in subsiding feelings of pain, both physical and emotional.  Dopamine helps to increase energy, motivation, concentration, and alertness.

According to a 2012 study published in the journal Neuroscience, the “secret” to increased productivity and happiness on any given day is a long-term investment in regular exercise. And a little each day appears to go further than a lot once or twice a week. (4)

‘A research study that actually looked into the mental benefits of Pilates was conducted in the UK. This particular study involved depressed women, at a residential women’s centre, who did 30-45 minutes of Pilates, 3 days a week in a group class setting over a 12 week period. Researchers measured levels of serotonin before the women began Pilates and once again after the 12 weeks were complete. In addition to serotonin, they measured depression levels, blood pressure, flexibility, endurance, and strength before and after the intervention. The results were clear, Pilates helps! After the 12 weeks, the women had a significant increase in serotonin levels and a 34% drop in the severity of their depression. That level of improvement rivals the effects of some anti-depressant medications that directly target serotonin’s action in the brain. The ladies also reaped the physical benefits with improved muscular endurance (by 38%), Increased flexibility (by 48%), and a general growth in body strength overall. Literally every parameter that they measured improved, significantly.’ (5)

At Bodylines we have a saying:  “Movement Heals”

When we say this, we mean it. It heals the body, the muscles, the joints but most importantly our mind.  After all, that is our most precious commodity.

(1) National Institute of Mental Health. Depression: Signs and Symptoms. Web.
(2) Mayo Clinic Staff.  “Depression and Anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms” Web
(3) Mercola MD, This is What Happens to Your Body When you Exercise. September 20, 2013. Web.
(4) Neuroscience. 2012 Jul 26;215:59-68. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.04.056. Epub 2012 Apr 30.

Differential effects of acute and regular exercise on cognition and affect. Authors: Hopkins ME, Davis FC, Vantieghem MR, Whalen PH, Bucci DJ. Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, USA

(5)  Hassan EA, Amin MA. Pilates Exercises Influence on the Serotonin Hormone, Some Physical Variables and the Depression Degree in Battered Women. World Journal of Sport Sciences. 2011. 5 (2): 89-100.

Article written by Kim Casto, Bodylines Owner