Depression is a multifaceted mental illness that often requires several methods of treatment to overcome. Commonly, those diagnosed with depression are prescribed antidepressants and recommended to a therapist to work through the core causes of their mental illness. While these are both very effective, this is not the only thing necessary to beat depression. Your doctor will likely also talk with you about the importance of making lifestyle changes like reducing stress, eating healthy, and, of course, exercising.
You may be tired of hearing exercise as the solution to many of your health problems, but regular physical activity really does have a positive impact on your overall physical and mental well-being. Along with the treatment for depression your doctor or health expert suggested, exercising can help to ease many of your symptoms and improve your mood. Here’s how:
Improves Your Physical Health
One of the main reasons that exercise is good for treating depression is that it helps to improve your physical health. Regular exercise boosts your immune system and lowers your risk for certain life-altering diseases. For patients who suffer from depression along with other health problems (diabetes, heart disease, etc.), the symptoms from their other medical conditions like chronic pain, fatigue, or high blood pressure, can intensify or trigger depression. Working out regularly, therefore, helps to ease these symptoms, which, in turn, reduces the times your depression is triggered.
Boosts Your Energy
It may seem counterproductive to exercise to gain energy, but it actually works. Those who suffer from depression often find that they are always tired or lack energy. You can greatly reduce this symptom by working out a few times a week. There are a few ways this works to your advantage. For starters, those who regularly work out throughout the week find that they are able to get more quality sleep. Another reason is that working out helps to strengthen your heart and lungs. When your heart and lungs are strong, they are able to properly circulate blood throughout the body for a more energized feeling.
If there’s one thing everyone can agree to it’s that a great-looking body always makes you feel great about yourself. When you develop a strong workout routine and start seeing significant results, it makes you feel good from the inside out.
Exercising While Depressed
Exercise!? The very idea of exercising when you’re suffering from depression seems impossible. You barely have enough strength to get out of bed or energy to get through the day, so how can you possibly incorporate an exercise routine into your life? Yes, it’s true that exercising while depressed can seem complicated, but with the right motivation and resources you can make significant progress. Here are a few quick tips on how to exercise while depressed:
Do Something You Love
Everyone likes to assume that exercising is limited to hitting the gym or watching a DVD or exercise video at home, but that is far from the truth. Anything that gets your heart rate up or strengthens your muscles is exercising. So, get creative and try doing things that you enjoy. Go swimming, take a dance class, or play a sport.
There’s no inspiration like the motivation you get from those who care about you. If you find that working out while depressed is hard, ask some friends or family members to join you. Not only do you have them as accountability partners, but it can make your workout experience more fun. The best part is on the days you feel you don’t have the courage to exercise, you’ll have your own personal cheerleaders rooting you on.
Take it Easy
While exercise can help to ease your depression symptoms you shouldn’t overdo it. Trying to do too much too soon can be discouraging and can cause injury. Start slow and as you’re feeling up to it, increase or intensify your workout routines. For example, you can start by going swimming at a local gym once a week for a few weeks, then increase the number of days you go as you’re feeling up to it.
It may seem crazy that exercising regularly can put you in a good mood and reduce your symptoms of depression, but it has proven beneficial for many who suffer from depression and other mental illnesses. Start slow, create goals, and as time goes on, you’ll be able to see the benefits of exercise for depression manifesting in your life.