Depression and Exercise

Create your depression and exercise recovery plan today!

Research on depression and exercise dates back almost 200 years.  Recent studies have reported benefits of exercise on mood in healthy and clinically depressed individuals. 


Most studies show depression and  exercise to have psychological and physiologic benefits for participants, with 90% reporting depression relief effects!  


One study on depression and exercise of hospitalized depressed individuals found significant reductions in depression among those who participated in an aerobic exercise program, but no symptom relief was reported from those participating in only occupational therapy. Another study on depression and exercise assigned patients to 8 weeks of walking, jogging, or recreational therapy, compared to another group who did none of this.  Depression scores decreased only in the exercising group.


There's no evidence that any one kind of depression and exercise choice has a greater impact on depression than others, however,  many of the studies have used running or other aerobic activities. In one example on depression and exercise women were randomly assigned to three groups: a running group, a weight-lifting group, or a no-exercise group.  Members of both exercise groups were less depressed than the no-exercise group at the end of the study and at later follow-ups; results between the exercise groups were similar. Positive outcome in this depression and exercise example did not depend on achieving physical fitness, simply on relief of depression symptoms.  


What Makes The Depression and Exercise Combination Work?


There can be a significant increase in self-esteem from implementing a depression and exercise plan simply by  learning a new skill such as weight training.  Exercise also provides a diversion from negative, obsessive thoughts and feelings.  If your physical body is more appealing to you as a direct result of exercise it only makes sense that this will be a natural boost to your esteem. Many exercisers report that their ability to eat more freely without worries about gaining weight also increases pleasure, satisfaction, and a sense of self-control. 


We've known for some time now that you store experiences and their connected emotions in physical places on your body.  In thinking about depression and exercise then it makes sense that muscle activity may help discharge old feelings associated with negative events. 


And there is some evidence of the role of endorphins on mood.  When depression and exercise mix, endorphins are released, which are our bodies natural pain-killers and can provide relief from some the aches & pains which accompany depression.  Runners have often referred to this endorphin release as the "runners high." 


80% of you depression sufferers cannot sleep well.  If you have depression and exercise is missing from your life, you stand to gain the most from exercise.  Depression and exercise regulates sleep patterns.  What a gift if you happen to be suffering from chronic depression and insomnia!


Your Plan For Depression and Exercise

Start where you're at in planning a depression and exercise routine!  I know... it sounds simple enough but I know you... well, at least I've known hundreds of depressed individuals (including myself), and there are several roadblocks to address.


Frequent symptoms of depression include fatigue  and a sense of being "slowed down" physically and mentally.  These certainly present barriers to depression and exercise.  Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness may also interfere with motivation to exercise. Heck, most non-depressed people who aren't exercising have difficulty establishing an exercise routine.  Am I making excuses for you to not formulate a depression and exercise goal?  No, but I know what a courageous choice it will be for you as you mix depression and exercise into your life. 


Don't do your depression and exercise program like I did!  I mixed perfectionism, obesity and self-loathing into my first several attempts at a depression and exercise recovery plan.  Can you guess what happened?  I added three more failures to the personal Hall of Shame in my head.  And, it only took one depression and exercise attempt each time to fail.  I tried to run 3 miles and average 10 minutes per mile.  I made it too!  The next day my shins, ankles and knees hurt so bad I limped for nearly a week.  Next I tried to re-enter my old racquetball days by attending a Saturday morning round-robin.  I played a little over three hours that morning.  The toll it took on my out-of-shape and moderately obese body kept me from ever returning to this day.  Finally, I decided I would lift weights, just like I did in high school and college, right?  I know, you can see this one coming.  I pulled two muscles on my first day and ended up in six weeks of physical rehabilitation.


I sure don't share my personal experience with depression and exercise out of any need for further embarrassment.  It's simply very important as you think about depression and exercise that you do it differently than I did.  I'm smarter than the average bear, but I set myself up to fail and did so very well I might add!  Today, behind my squat rack and weight bench is a sign.  It simply says, "Easy Does It."  Please let this work for you too.


If you are seriously depressed and have just started on antidepressant medication it may not be the right time for you to begin a depression and exercise plan.  Give therapy and medicine 4-6 weeks to begin alleviating some of your symptoms and put your exercise start date on the calendar.


Make your depression and exercise routine something you like and can see yourself having pleasure doing.  Initially, do to the isolation that accompanies your depression it may be important to team up with someone, or even a group.  While it's nice outside consider outdoor activities.  Sunshine can be a pick-you-up, both psychologically and literally.  Twenty minutes of sunshine a day stimulates the natural production of serotonin in the brain.  This occurs through your retinas.  More on this later in the Fall when I write a page about the seasonal component of depression.


Make a conscious goal of your depression and exercise plan to exercise for BETTER MOODS  not for weight loss or physical fitness.  Allow the latter two goals to occur spontaneously as an extra benefit.  The danger in watching the scales or looking for the immediate change in the mirror is that you will become frustrated and give up.  This web page is about depression and exercise for better mental health.


Walking is an easy choice to make as you begin your depression and exercise plan.  It carries little potential for injury and requires no special equipment.  Shoot for 20 minutes per walk, 1-3 times each week.  After a couple of weeks increase your walking to 60 minutes, three times per week.  Of course, you know the frequently heard message... please always consult your doctor before starting any new depression and exercise regimen.


If you are interested in a balance between weight training, cardiovascular and flexibility training I highly recommend Global Health & Fitness.  These are the expert personal trainers I hired to develop an individualized depression and exercise workout plan tailored precisely for where I was at the beginning.  And I didn't even have to leave the house!  These guys are online which made it a great convenience for a busy family man like me.  They also took into consideration the equipment I have to work with, including this poor old body of mine ;-)


Allow yourself the gift of accountability.  First write down your depression and exercise plan.  Then tell at least one other person about your depression and exercise routine, and give them permission to check in with you on a regular basis.  This can be invaluable in the long-run!


For Great Success Combine Many Treatment Options, Not Just Depression and Exercise


Depression and exercise is shown to help 90% of the time, but why stop there?  Combine excellent depression recovery skills from a seasoned therapist, and, if appropriate, medication (either prescription or natural) too for a great 1-2-3 knockout punch for battling depression.



Depression Articles Home Page