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Exercise in Teens to Fight Depression

Many teens will struggle with depression before reaching adulthood. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, Between 10 to 15 percent of teenagers have some symptoms of depression at any one time. Depression can lead to strained relationships, problems with school work, substance use, and even suicide.

Symptoms of depression and anxiety often occur during times of stress. Taking steps to reduce stress in your life and maintain a healthy lifestyle can improve your symptoms and keep them from reoccurring.

Exercise is a great way to improve both your physical and mental health. In fact, a recent study in England is adding to the already overwhelming evidence of the benefits of exercise. The British study followed teens with depression and enrolled them in trainer-led workouts three times a week for 12 weeks. The teens were also encouraged to exercise 30 minutes a day on the other days. According to the researchers, the workouts were linked to significant boosts in mood, and depression severity was cut by 63 percent. Eighty-three percent of the teens who completed the exercise program were no longer as depressed by the end of the study.

Psychologists studying how exercise relieves depression and anxiety suggest that exercising for as little as 10 minutes can deliver several hours of relief. Benefits of regular exercise include:

  • Stress Reduction: Exercise slows down the release of stress-related hormones.
  • Self Esteem Boost: Doing something good for yourself, like exercise, makes you feel better about yourself.
  • Improved Sleep: Daily exercise can improve sleep quality and exercising consistently can provide improvements in sleep over time.

It’s important to remember that depression and mood disorders are not the same for everyone. Understanding how to make small adjustments in your life to positively impact your depression can help you cope. Different types of exercise may help different people. A short jog, weight lifting, an upbeat exercise class, or yoga may appeal differently to you. Find what works best, and stick to it. Inviting friends along can help you keep the commitment.

While exercise is an excellent way to improve physical and mental health, it is not a substitution for professional mental health care. If you are concerned about your mental health and the effects it may be having on your body, it is important to seek help from a trusted adult and talk to a professional.