Depression and Exercise

Pretty much anyone can mimic the posture and general vibe of someone struggling with depression.

A depressed person is usually low on energy, hunched over, breathing shallowly and only dimly aware of their surroundings. Depression is easy to spot when you know what to look for.

It’s hard to tease out the cause and effect relationships that apply to a person suffering from depression. Are they hunched over because they’re depressed, or are they depressed because they’re hunched over? Are they low energy because they’re depressed, or are they low energy because they aren’t exercising?

Exercise and Depression by Travis S

Natural cures for depression target leverage points where we can actually make a difference.

Exercise and Depression breathe by Fe 108Aums

It’s fairly challenging to change habitual ways of thinking that have become extremely entrenched in a person’s perspective on the world.

However, it’s much, much easier to take a person who’s feeling low on energy and get them to jump around and engage in a little exercise.

And from that expenditure of energy, they’ll naturally feel a little more energized.

If my thoughts are tight and contracted, I can try to shift my thinking and focus on something empowering.

But if my breath is tight and contracted, I can easily sit up straight and breathe a huge deep breath right into my belly.

That oxygen immediately rushes into my lungs and oxygenates my blood. And as soon as the oxygenated blood reaches my brain, boom, I’m feeling much more awake!

Exercise is a fantastic place to focus if you want to work on healing depression naturally.

How does exercise relieve depression? It enhances the action and flow of endorphins, letting these chemicals circulate through your body. Endorphins improve natural immunity and reduce the perception of pain. They also improve your mood, naturally, no pills, no herbs, no anything, just yourself and your body.

Exercising regularly also lowers your blood pressure, which helps to protect you agains heart disease and cancer, and also boosts your self esteem because you will undoubtably look better too!

A study published in 2005 found that walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week, or 60 minutes a day for three times a week had a significant influence on mild to moderate depression symptoms.

Walking fast for only 15 minutes a day five times a week or doing stretching exercises three times a week did not help as much.

So the lesson here is that you have to do enough exercise to get the full benefits, just a little bit won’t help.

Book that time in, put it in your calendar and don’t let anything sway you from your ‘exercise time’, it is more than important, it’s crucial to your mind and health!

Here, then, are five pointers to watch out for as you harness the power of exercise to combat depression. And check out some recommended health resources at the bottom of this page if you’re ready to get going with a brand new exercise program to bring more energy and excitement into your life.

Depression and Exercise Yoga Guru Suneel Singh_Pachimotanasana by coordinator_tarun

Five Things You Need to Know to Heal Depression Naturally with Exercise

  1. Jump In With Both Feet and Commit
  2. Exercise isn’t a magic pill. It takes time for your daily workouts to take effect. Be ready for a rough period of entry into a new exercise habit. Just when the benefits are starting to flow is when you’re most likely to fall of the wagon. When you start your new commitment to exercise, resolve to stick to your exercise program no matter what. And if you do fall out of the exercise habit, return to regular exercise as soon as you realize you’ve stopped working out regularly.

  3. Starting Small is Better than Not Starting
  4. There are always a million and one reasons why you aren’t ready to start exercising seriously. If you’re out of shape, exercising is going to be challenging no matter what right off the bat. Start small with something–anything–and reap the rewards of positive momentum. The sooner you get started, the better.

  5. Exercise is a Long-term Play
  6. If you start exercising solely as a means of curing or diminishing your depression, you may become disheartened when it doesn’t appear to be working at first. It may take weeks or months before you notice an appreciable difference. (Or you may find that exercise is just what the doctor ordered right out of the gate.) Embrace exercise for its many benefits only some of which involve helping you cure your depression.

  7. Take Advantage of Vanity
  8. Let’s face it–when we look good and attract the attention of people who see us, we get a little jolt of positive energy. It feels good to be in shape and receive attention for that fact. Normally, in polite society, we aren’t allowed to say that vanity is a good thing. However, if receiving attention from people for your exercise-enhanced physique strokes your ego and leaves you feeling less depressed, we’ll take it. The more your body transforms, and the more attention you receive for that fact, the more likely you are to achieve lift-off out of your depression.

  9. Breathe Deep and Breathe Often
  10. The more oxygen you get flowing into your lungs, the better. Err on the side of exercises that leave you breathless. The more you heave and suck air, the more oxygen you’ll be getting. And more oxygen is just what a depressed body needs. When in doubt, focus on your breathing and exercise accordingly. Thirty minutes of ragged aerobics-induced breathing is better than a full bottle of anti-depressants.

So the bottom line is that I can’t stress enough the importance of regular exercise, not just for getting out of depression, but for your overall health!

It’s imperative to your well-being, to your emotional health, to your mental health, to your ageing process…yes, I can go on and on here. And all it takes is a little willpower, a little push, and you will feel so much better for it, I promise.

Oh, and did I mention that exercising is free?

Yes, because you don’t have to pay a gym membership; remember that running, walking, gardening, washing your car or swimming are all exercises that are less intense, but still count.

Anything that gets you off the couch and moving is exercise that can help improve your mood!