The Unique Benefits of Outdoor Exercise for the Depressed

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Outdoor Exercise

Depression is a tough affliction to deal with. It affects every sphere of your life and it can leave you feeling emotionally and physically exhausted for most of the day. A lot of people in our environment suffer from the effects of depression and finding a way to curb it is extremely important.

The first step towards treating depression is figuring out if its present. Diagnosing depression is extremely difficult considering the fact that its symptoms can be hidden from other people rather easily. The individual that suffers from it might not even realize that it’s depression until it significantly impacts their life. When it comes down to actual treatment, there are a variety of things that you can do to minimize the effects of depression.

A change in habits and day-to-day activities would be a good start. Physical activity has been shown to be very effective in suppressing depression and it’s the first recommended method by both laymen and doctors alike. The way you apply exercise is crucial, however. For most people, working out inside is a boring and dull affair that they could go without. An indoor atmosphere doesn’t quite provide you with a creative environment that pushes you forward.

Spending time outside, on the other hand, does wonders for both mood and the effectiveness of a fitness regime. If you’re wondering what kind of positive effects exercising outdoors has on mental health, here are some of the best examples.

Greenery is good for you

Have you ever wondered why we keep plants indoors? There are actually quite a few reasons for this. Obviously, there’s the aesthetic element that they provide. They look good, they smell good, and they can really bring a room together. However, did you know that they also have a positive effect on mental health and relaxation? If you’ve ever found yourself surrounded by plants and greenery, you might have noticed an elevated feeling of relaxation. It’s a subtle change that you might have attributed to a change of environment, but it’s actually the plants themselves that make you feel comfortable.

Spending time in a natural environment can have some significant positive effects on our minds. It’s not just potted plants in homes that have this effect. The best results can be felt when you take a stroll through a park or forest. Looking at all that greenery stimulates us in a very calm and soothing way. It’s not just sight that is affected, either. You can be sure that the sound and feel of nature also have an effect on your current well-being. Smell is the sense that is most connected to our subconscious and it can elicit some deep emotional responses. When the cold weather passes and you start smelling the flowers in spring, you probably get a wonderful feeling that defines your day.

The therapeutic effects of spending time in nature aren’t at all unknown. It’s been shown that spending at least two or three hours in nature per week can have a significant impact on mental health. Feelings of anxiety are slightly alleviated and most people feel that it gives them a sense of serenity. With cases of mild depression, even health professionals will recommend spending a bit of time in nature. It’s not a substitute for medication, but it can help with positive progress.

It gives you a self-esteem boost

Self-esteem is just one of the many benefits that come with exercising regularly. Though, you might not realize the extent to which it works. Most people would assume that getting a fit and toned body is what gives you all of the self-esteem you need. Being nice to look at can’t hurt, right? However, that’s only part of the reason exercise is so good for your own self-image. The real results come from the inside.

On its own, exercising doesn’t seem like much of an achievement. It feels like people want to work towards a specific goal and exercising is just one tool that can help them achieve it. However, the truth is that fitness can be a goal all on its own. Lots of people get into working out without a clear purpose in mind.

The simple act of exercising can slowly build confidence. You’re doing something to better your state of mind, which makes you feel like you’re doing something productive. Best of all, certain types of workouts don’t really require a lot of mental exertion and you can simply phase out while doing them. Despite a general lack of motivation, they are easy to start and finish. This can give you a sense of accomplishment and a much-needed short burst of confidence.

Getting sweaty outside can be a bit of an uncomfortable situation for those who are shy. If exercising outside makes you feel vulnerable, starting off easy might be your best bet. Anyone that has issues with their body image and might not want to have a run would be better off going for a bike ride instead. It’s a lot easier on the joints and you can cross large distances with less effort.

It stimulates consistency

One of the key issues people with depression face is the lack of consistency in day-to-day activities. One day, you might not feel like doing anything at all, while another day you might be able to push yourself to do something that fulfils you. With things like exercise, consistency is key and it’s something that needs to be repeated in order to produce positive effects on health.

When you decide to work out in a gym, there’s nothing preventing you from ending the workout early if you don’t feel like it, or just not doing as good of a job as you normally would. You can always put a stop to it and not get the full workout benefits. The monotony of working out indoors doesn’t help. There’s no real sense of direct progress that you can measure while you’re in the gym.

Going for a run or bike ride might alleviate some of these issues. Not only are you working out, but you’re also reaching a specific goal in terms of distance or speed. You can see yourself getting closer to your destination and you can enjoy the views that come along the way.

Running is a bit tiresome and unforgiving when you lack motivation. You can’t just stop, considering the fact that you have to get back home. However, riding a bicycle allows you to change the pace of the workout as you see fit. You can have a leisurely ride through town without much effort, or you can pick out a high-intensity route that really challenges your body. If you lose motivation along the way, you don’t have to fret. There are many types of electric bicycles online that have engines that can take over for you when you get tired. There isn’t much pressure and you can casually stroll through part of the riding session if you feel like it.

You get a lot more energy

Working out generally gives you a set of wonderful benefits. When you regularly exhaust yourself, your body gets better at managing energy, which is why you feel a lot more awake and energetic after getting into a fitness routine.

It’s not unheard of for depressed individuals to find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. Sluggishness and sleeping in are just some of the more prominent symptoms of a depressed state of mind. Regular exercise motivates your body with a burst of energy whenever you’re set to work out. If you muster the energy to start your day off with some physical activities, you’re going to find that your motivation has increased significantly and you can get out of bed without issues.  Speaking of spending time in bed, studies show that exercise also leads to a much deeper and higher quality of sleep. This is crucial for those with depression as their sleeping patterns might not be as consistent as they should be.

Do you know what else is also capable of giving you a nice little boost of energy? Spending time in the great outdoors and absorbing all of that wonderful sunlight. So why not combine both of these activities and end up with twice the energy? Working on your fitness routine while outside has been shown to be very effective at improving one’s mood.

Conclusion

Depression comes with a feeling of helplessness that is hard to shake. Individuals can be left with no motivation or self-esteem and they are expected to better themselves all the same. Doing this without some external help is pretty difficult. However, not all hope is lost. Exercise, when combined with medication and proper therapy can do wonders to treat depression and its effects. Spending time outside has been shown to be just as helpful. If you manage to push through the start, you can be sure that a natural exercise regime will make all the difference in your day-to-day mental state.