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Exercise and Depression: How Physical Activity Can Improve Mental Health in NYC

Cheerful and successful hispanic man jogging in the park, man running on a sunny day, smiling and happy having an outdoor activity.

Depression is a mental health condition that affects people all over the United States including many residents of New York City (NYC). While therapy and medication are treatments there is another beneficial tool in alleviating depression symptoms: exercise. In this blog post, we will explore the relationship between exercise and depression emphasizing how physical activity contributes to well being in NYC. Additionally, we will provide insights on how to incorporate exercise into your routine and discuss how the therapy services provided by Uncover Mental Health Counseling can complement your exercise efforts.

The Science Behind Exercise and Depression

The link between exercise and depression is supported by a growing body of scientific research. Here are some of the key findings:

  1. Exercise boosts the production of “feel good” neurotransmitters: Engaging in exercise helps increase the production of chemicals in the brain that positively affect our mood, like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters play a role in regulating our emotions. Serotonin, often referred to as the “feel good” neurotransmitter, specifically impacts feelings of happiness and contentment. It has been observed that having lower levels of serotonin is associated with symptoms commonly associated with depression. 
  2. Exercise reduces inflammation: Regular exercise can help reduce inflammation within the body. Chronic inflammation has been associated with health issues, including depression. By engaging in activity inflammation levels can decrease, potentially leading to an improvement in mood. Additionally, consistent exercises reduce depression symptoms and help your overall well being become healthier.
  3. Exercise improves sleep: Exercise has an impact on sleep quality and duration which can be challenging for many individuals with depression. Research suggests that being physically active can contribute to sleep patterns offering some relief from depressive symptoms.
  4. Exercise increases self-efficacy: Engaging in exercise has been shown to boost self efficacy, which refers to an individual’s belief in their ability to achieve goals. This improvement in self confidence can contribute to increased self esteem and a reduction in feelings of helplessness or hopelessness frequently associated with depression.
  5. Exercise provides a sense of accomplishment: Exercise has been found to highlight the impact it can have on well-being further establishing its role as a valuable addition to managing and reducing symptoms of depression. When we engage in activity it brings a sense of fulfillment because the practice of exercise helps depression. Achieving a workout or reaching a fitness goal can provide a needed boost enhancing both our mood and our self confidence.

Getting Started with Exercise

Embarking on an exercise regimen can pose challenges, particularly when your spirits are low or lacking motivation. Nevertheless there are strategies you can employ to facilitate the journey:

  1. Consult with a healthcare provider: Before starting any exercise routine it is extremely important to consult with a healthcare professional especially if you have any existing conditions.
  2. Choose an activity you enjoy: Physical activity doesn’t need to feel like a burden. Opt for an activity that brings you joy whether it’s going for a run, taking a dip in the pool or showing off your dance moves. Doing so can help you stay committed to your exercise routine effortlessly.
  3. Start small: To avoid getting injured and maintain an exercise routine it is essential to begin with small workouts and gradually increase both the duration and intensity of your sessions.
  4. Set realistic goals: One way to maintain motivation for the improvement of exercise and depression is to keep track of your progress by setting goals. For instance you could aim to exercise for 30 minutes, three times, per week. Practicing exercise helps depression and improves your overall well being. 
  5. Make it a habit: It’s really important to be consistent when it comes to exercising. Schedule your workouts for the time every day or week and make them a regular part of your routine to improve on exercise and depression.
  6. Stay accountable: Consider finding someone to exercise with or participating in a fitness class as a means of staying committed and driven. Additionally, utilizing a fitness app or maintaining a workout journal can help you monitor your progress effectively for your journey towards the improvement of exercise and depression symptoms.
  7. Listen to your body: It’s important to listen to your body and make some changes to your routine. If you’re feeling tired or have muscle soreness it might be an idea to take a break or choose a less intense workout.

Exercise helps depression!

Dealing with depression can significantly impact our physical well being. Exercise can be a tool for managing its symptoms since even small amounts of physical activity can positively influence our mood and overall state. It’s important to keep in mind that exercise is just one aspect of a comprehensive approach to mental health. Seeking therapy also plays a role in addressing depression and improving our overall well being. If you’re currently experiencing depression in NYC, Uncover Mental Health Counseling can connect you with therapists who are ready to provide the support you need.

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