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How Black America can Fight Depression with Exercise

Physical activity can profoundly impact your ability to overcome what ails you.

Black America was already struggling with historic levels of mental health problems amid the coronavirus pandemic. Black America paused for eight minutes and forty-five seconds and witnessed George Floyd’s killing. It co-signed all the stress and anxiety that exist in the Black Community.

According to data from the Census Bureau, within a week after George Floyd’s death, anxiety and depression among Black Americans were shot to higher rates than any other racial or ethnic group, by 41 percent. That is approximately 1.4 million more people.

A 2018 study in the journal Lancet found that Black Americans suffer higher levels of psychological distress following police shootings than white people even when they live in the same community.

Let’s be real, just being a Black man and woman is stressful! The problem is our community leaders, and politicians have shied away from an honest dialogue of the constant stress it is Black in America.

People with depression or anxiety will most likely experience weight gain or weight loss due to their condition or the medications that treat them. Depression and anxiety can be associated with overeating, poor food choices, and a more sedentary lifestyle. Over time, weight gain may eventually lead to obesity.

About 43 percent of adults with depression are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And they say adults who’ve been diagnosed with depression are more likely rested Source to be overweight than those who haven’t.

Children who are depressed have a higher BMI than children who aren’t. In one 2002 study, they found that children who were depressed were more likely rested Source to become obese by the time researchers’ followed up one year later.

Obesity in the Black American community has been a growing concern in recent decades. Obesity does not only come from stress; it results from multiple societal elements. Other factors include inequities in stable and affordable housing, income, and access to quality education.

These factors can directly or indirectly influence an individual’s chance to live a longer and healthier life. Also, suppose one combines those circumstances with disparities in access to affordable and nutritious food or safe places to be physically active.

Among African-American adults, nearly 48 percent are clinically obese (including 37.1 percent of men and 56.6 percent of women, compared to 32.6 percent of whites (including 32.4 percent of men and 32.8 percent of women). For this reason, awareness of these risks must be spread more widely to help combat the habits leading to obesity.

Is turning to therapy and medication the most effective solution for fighting depression? Studies are beginning to show that you can fight depression at home with a change in your activity level.

It’s true! Physical activity can profoundly impact your ability to overcome what ails you. If you’re feeling depressed, it might be time to incorporate exercise into your lifestyle.

Exercise comes in many different forms, and you can find a regimen that fits you. Avoid overdoing it when it comes to exercise; ease into some physical activity and see how you feel.

Try these effective strategies to fight depression with exercise:

  1. Experience the runner’s high. Following a good workout, your body will experience what is known as a runner’s high, which results from an endorphin surge in your body. The temporary mood lift that this endorphin surge provides can help reduce depression on a short-term basis.

• When you’re feeling tense, overwhelmed, or down in general, seek a temporary pick me up in the form of a workout. Go for a short walk, hop on a treadmill or elliptical, or ride your bicycle. Even yoga, Pilates, and strength training exercises can provide you with a boost of endorphins to pick up your mood.

• Working out for at least 30 minutes to combat symptoms of depression can also provide you with a boost in energy and concentration, which can reduce some of the negative feelings associated with depression.

  1. Improve your overall well being. Strength training is a great way to improve your health and well-being, reducing symptoms of depression. For example, lifting dumbbells can build long, lean muscle, enhancing metabolism and making a more robust and healthier body.

• While strength training may not directly impact your depression symptoms, its ability to improve your health can have long-term effects on your overall well-being.

  1. Exercise daily—exercise at least 30 minutes each day, six days per week. According to the Journal of Preventive Medicine, several weeks after you establish this regular exercise routine, you’ll begin to feel the relief of your depression symptoms on a much more consistent basis.
  2. Replace medications with exercise. The Journal of Preventive Medicine recently featured a study of patients with depression who worked out for at least 3 hours per week. This study found that these patients’ remission was comparable to cognitive-behavioral therapies and medication treatments.

• While exercise may not replace your need for other treatment options completely, it can benefit your mental well being in many ways, making it an excellent way to balance the therapies you rely on for relief.

• If you’re currently in treatment or taking medication, discuss any changes in therapy or medications with your doctor before changing them.

  1. Develop a routine. Developing a routine for exercise can have numerous benefits. Not only will you be combating your depression with exercise itself, but also having a routine to look forward to can boost your spirits and ward off the overwhelming feelings of depression.

The Bottom Line

Depression can negatively impact your life in many ways. If you Black, depression takes an enormous toll on you, your family, and your community. Experiment with different therapy and treatment options to get the help you need. Exercise is a great way to reduce the symptoms associated with depression: helping to clear your mind and improve your energy while also giving you a general sense of well-being.

Suppose you don’t already have a regular exercise regimen and suffer from depression. In that case, this is a treatment option that is well worth considering. It may work well in conjunction with current treatment options or replace them altogether. Please consult with your physician to learn more.

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