Depression and Exercise

Depression and Exercise

When you suffer from depression or anxiety, exercise can seem like the last thing you want to do. But once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference. Research on anxiety, depression and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help reduce anxiety and improve mood. Depression is so common most of us have either experienced it or know more than one person who has. Medication and therapy are common treatments, but exercise is another tool that can bring relief.

Study after study has shown that exercise can fight mild to moderate depression because it:

  • Increases your sense of mastery, which helps if you don’t feel in control of your life
  • It increases your energy
  • Increases self-esteem and confidence
  • Provides a distraction from your worries
  • Improves your health and body, which can help lift your mood
  • Helps you get rid of built-up stress and frustration
  • Helps you sleep better, which can often be a problem when you’re depressed
  • Provides some social interaction
  • Releases feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression

Doing 30 minutes or more of exercise a day, for three to five days a week can significantly improve depression symptoms. But smaller amounts of activity — as little as 10 to 15 minutes at a time — can make a difference.

Set Simple Goals

It doesn’t take much exercise to lift your mood. Set a goal to walk around the block. Promise yourself you’ll walk around the block at least 3 times that day. The next day, do more. Try to improve just a little bit each day.

Go Easy On Yourself

You might not be able to handle a lot of exercise, so feel good about what you can do

Do What You Usually Enjoy

When you’re depressed, it’s hard to enjoy anything, but think about what you normally like when you’re not depressed. If yoga feels good to you, spend a few minutes going through a few simple poses. If you like fresh air, go for a walk or a bike ride. You may not enjoy it in the moment, but even a small change in your mood can make a difference.

Make It Social

Try to find a friend to walk with. Talking to people can help raise your energy and remind you that you’re not alone.

Go Outside

Even a little sunshine can help boost your mood and remind you that there’s a world out there. You can participate in it as much as you can handle.

Work With Your Doctor

Be sure to talk to your doctor about your treatment options and your plans to exercise. He or she may be able to refer you to someone who can help you set up an exercise program.

Whatever you do, remember that you’re not alone and that there is hope. Exercise is just one more tool to help with your moods and the sense of accomplishment can add a new dimension to your day–something you can be proud of and feel good about.

Here Are Some Fun And Creative Ways To Add Exercise Into Your Daily Life

  • Walk your dog
  • Park a little farther away from your destination
  • Bike or walk to work
  • Walk around the mall
  • Take your kids or friends on a hike/treasure hunt
  • Hike/jog to a picnic site with some friends
  • Play tag
  • Don’t take the elevator-take the stairs
  • Put on some music and dance
  • Clean your house
  • Wash your car
  • Garden
  • Run or walk around your neighbourhood and meet some friends
  • Rollerblade
  • Swim (your local pool likely has some public swim times)
  • Lift weights
  • Play sports like soccer, basketball, hockey etc
  • Yoga or Pilates
  • Stretch

The contents of this site are for informational purposes only and are meant to be discussed with your physician or other qualified health care professional before being acted on. Never disregard any advice given to you by your doctor or other qualified health care professional. Always seek the advice of a physician or other licensed health care professional regarding any questions you have about your medical condition(s) and treatment(s). This site is not a substitute for medical advice.

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