Skip to main content

Exercise is Natural Medicine for Depression

I know what some will say... I just can't get myself moving.  If you need motivation, here is a reason why.  Exercise increases neurotransmitters, the stuff in the brain responsible for regulating physical and mental well being. Here is some research you can read.

For my money, you don't have to be an athlete or exhaust yourself to get some benefit from exercise.  Start slow and small, then increase intensity as you get better.  The most important thing is to do something every day so you body develops a 'need' for moving.  I'd say you'll feel that 'need' in about 3 weeks at which point it becomes easier to get going.  Developing this healthy habit will help with your depression.

Many will also say that exercise takes time which they don't have.  As my mother said, "you have time for what you make time for".  You can do something just about anywhere!

If you think that exercising requires money, I'll show you how you can get in shape for free!  For the record, I haven't spent a dime on gym, equipment, or special clothing in the last 15 years.

Small step ideas (15 minutes):
Walk - around the block, up/down stairs, to the store, etc.
Stand (instead of sitting) - put a bankers box on your table/desk and use it as the stand for computer, book,
Work your muscles - lift your leg while sitting, get a 16 oz. can and repeatedly lift it in your hand while sitting, reading, watching TV, squeeze you buttocks while waiting at a red light
Play - chase after your child or pet, learn to juggle with safe items in your place (tennis ball, cotton balls, oranges, pens)

Of course, if you are ready to do some more intensive exercise, please do but don't overdo.  Getting muscle aches and pain may stop you from continuing activities.

Here is my daily 35-minute routine:

easy side lunges with arm movement (warm up about 5 minutes)

I watch sports while doing this (the hard work about 20 minutes)
5 sets of:
10 squats with side lift of alternate legs
10 squats with back lift of alternate legs
10 squats with front lift of alternate legs
10 push-ups (hands on the seat of a chair)
50 steps marching in place
(sometimes I use cans in my hands for the squats)

floor work - crunches, bicycle legs, torso twist, whatever I feel like (about 5 minutes)

stretch, relax, breath (about 5 minutes)

I hope this inspires you to start your journey in movement.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Depression with Bidirectional Illnesses

Depression with Bidirectional Illnesses I've said this before... depression doesn't walk alone in most cases. The importance of this cannot be emphasized enough because the coexistence of conditions often lead to worsening conditions. The constant exposure/experience of the simultaneous illnesses often end up in competition for attention which feed the cycle and make things worse for both (or multiple conditions). While I cannot list all combinations in this post, I'd like to illustrate the point with some common occurrences. Depression and Insomnia It has been proven by research that insomnia is a huge risk factor for depression as well as a consequence of depression. This is not hard to understand. In layman terms, those of us who don't get enough sleep often experience lack of energy, memory problems, and a host of other symptoms that make normal functioning of body and mind difficult on a daily basis. The frustration with not being able to do all the thing

First Step Ideas

One of the hardest thing for depressed people is to take the first step for getting help.  I know, I've been there.  It took 10 years, 2 episodes with cancer, a break in career progression, and a ton of perceived physical pain (yes, it was not real but I was still hurting). Here are some tips to start on the depression road: Ask a friend or family member to help you to make an appointment and accompany you to see a doctor.  You can see your general practitioner since depression is fairly easy to diagnose.  They can get prescribe an anti-depressant immediately and refer you to a therapist. Educate yourself about treatment methods by reading.   Learning about possible treatments (medical, psychological, life skills) is an essential part of developing skills to deal with depression. For example, there are a lot of misconceptions around what therapy is and can do which can lead to not reaching out, disappointment due to unreasonable expectations, and a plethora of other out

Break the Negative Cycle

Part of why depression is so debilitating is the vicious circle of negative thinking.  It goes something like this: I feel down > I'm lazy > I don't deserve ______ > I feel guilty/anxious/stressed/pain/paranoid/whatever > I should _____ > I'm tired > I don't care > leave me alone > REPEAT Here are some techniques I used to break this cycle: Listen to comedy - not the sarcastic type but pure funny stuff Search for quotes on life wisdom - ponder its truth and how (if at all) you can apply it Clean something - it is amazing how focusing on a simple task can give your mind a break Write a note of appreciation - like smiling, using positive language raises your spirit/mood Breath - if you don't know how, look up yoga/meditation/mindfulness The possibilities are endless.  The main idea I am highlighting is to FOCUS on something for a little while (15 minutes) to give your mind a break from negative thinking.  This will allow you to s