Exercise & Depression
How to get up and get moving
If you’ve ever experienced depression, you know how frustrating and, at times, debilitating it can be. It may make you so tired you don’t want to get out of bed — or so anxious you can’t calm down. Whatever your symptoms are, it can be a challenge to pull yourself out of that dark hole. Seeing your doctor should be your first step in dealing with depression, but there are other tools that can help. Exercise may be the last thing on your mind, but it’s one thing that may give you immediate relief.
Depression – A Guide to Self-Awareness
Feeling down? Ask yourself the following questions…maybe it’s time to pick up a few weights, take a walk and start exercising. All the research is there, proving exercise can help your mood.
– Have you had difficulty getting out of bed in the morning?
– Have you gained or lost 10 pounds or more over a short period of time?
– Can you remember what you did to feel more relaxed and in control?
– Have you tried alternative ways, other than medication to feel more balanced emotionally?
– Have you tried to exercise to feel better?
How Exercise Can Help
It may seem impossible to get moving when you feel depressed. You may wonder: why bother? Even if you can only manage 10 or 15 minutes of exercise, studies have shown it can boost your mood for up to 12 hours. The question is: how can you overcome the inertia that often accompanies depression?
Study after study has shown that exercise can fight mild to moderate depression because it can:
- Increase your sense of mastery/control
- Provides a distraction from your worries
- Improves your overall health
- Improves your self-esteem
- Helps you get rid of built-up stress and frustration
- Helps you sleep better
Keep It Simple
The problem with depression is that it drains your energy, making every task seem like a monumental effort. Part of moving past that fatigue is taking that first step, whether it’s putting on your workout clothes or getting out the dog’s leash for a walk. Keeping it simple and doable will make it easier to get started.
• Set modest goals. It doesn’t take much exercise to create change in your mood, so don’t think you have to train for a marathon. Set small goals. Try to walk around the block at first. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself and do it three times that day. Try to improve just a little bit each day. Consider noting it in your calendar as you would with any other important task.
• Do what you usually enjoy. When you’re depressed, it’s hard to enjoy anything, but think about activities you normally like when you’re not depressed. If yoga feels good to you, do yoga, if you like fresh air, go for walk or ride a bike. Gear up by listening to some of your favorite tunes.
• Make it social. Find a friend to join you. 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.
• 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.
Workouts for Depression
When it comes to managing depression, there are no right or wrong exercises. Interval training can help your body release feel-good hormones. Yoga or Pilates can help you relax and connect with your body.
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. It can add a new dimension to your day–something you can be proud of and feel good about. Lori Michiel Fitness offers Fitness Tune-Up Sessions to help you get a jumpstart on your fitness plan and commitment. Call us at 818-620-1442 to make your first appointment.
Source: Blumenthal, James A., et al. Arch Intern Med. 2012;159:2349-2356. x