mental health fears

The Secret to Exercising When You Feel Depressed

Studies show that exercise can relieve symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety. It’s a safe and effective remedy, but it’s difficult to run laps when you can barely drag yourself out of bed.  You need to know the secret to exercise when you feel depressed.

A major study by Better Health Victoria found that exercise worked as well as antidepressant medication for some patients. So, making healthy exercise beats depressionthe effort would certainly be worth it. However, knowing what to do and being able to do it can be impossible if you’re experiencing depression or just feeling moody.

Most often you will need strategies to help you start an exercise program and then stick with it. Try these tips to get you moving and feeling the benefits.

Tips for Starting Exercising When You’re Depressed:

See your doctor.

If you’re being treated for depression, let your doctor know about your plans. They can coordinate your treatment, answer your individual questions, and help you to evaluate your progress.

Start small.

Your first step can be as modest as a walk around the block or 10 minutes of stretching in the morning. As your energy levels increase, it will be easier to tackle bigger projects. Even a walk to letterbox is a start.  Challenge yourself to do a little more each day.

Focus on aerobics.

While a balanced training program is important, research shows that aerobic activities are especially powerful in fighting depression. Do something that speeds up your heart rate, like riding a bike or jumping rope. If that sounds boring – put on the loudest happiest music you can move your body to. Dance around your kitchen ‘like no one is watching!’ Do crazy stuff to the music. You will feel silly to start with – but start. Exercise is simply movement. Move that body!!   Remember baby steps.  Start small and add an extra minute every day.

Set realistic goals.

Aim for targets you can reach. Sign up for beginner fitness classes. Exercise for a few minutes at a time if you need to work your way up.  Do things you love.  Walking is one of the best exercises and it is free.  Get out into nature.  If there are nature walks around do one of these once a week.  The fresh will do wonders for clearing your mind.

Make it convenient.

Keep some gear at home that you can use anytime, such as resistance bands or a rowing machine. Do leg lifts and pushups while you’re brewing coffee or watching TV.

Be consistent.

Regular exercise delivers greater results and reduces your risk of injuries. Try shortening your sessions instead of skipping a day if you’re feeling uninspired. Physical activity, any activity helps.  Just move, get up, get moving.  Block out time for gardening and housework.

Tips for Sticking To Your Exercise Program:

Enjoy yourself.

Find a variety of activities that you love, so you’ll look forward to your sessions. You might take dance classes one day and go hiking the next. Listen to your favourite songs and go outdoors when you can.

Create new challenges.

Update your goals when you’re ready to aim higher. Slowly increase the duration and intensity of your workouts or learn a new skill. You may criticize yourself harshly when you’re depressed. Become aware of your thoughts and experiment with more constructive messages. List your personal strengths and the things you like about your body.  Take care of your mental and physical wellbeing. Keeping fit also depends on eating a balanced diet and getting adequate amounts of restful sleep.

Offer rewards.

Recognize your efforts by treating yourself to something that gives you pleasure. You might buy a book or take a bubble bath.

Seek support.

Reach out to family and friends you trust and tell them what they can do to help you reach your fitness goals. They may offer words of encouragement or they may want to join you at the gym.

Remember your purpose.

Think about the reasons why you want a more active life. Your main concern may be relieving symptoms of depression or you may have other priorities, like wanting to stay independent as you age or provide a healthy role model for your children.   Depression can create additional barriers to exercise, Dance, jive, play loud music to chase away the blues.but you can overcome them. Follow your doctor’s recommendations and start out gradually. Take baby steps, don’t overdo it.  It takes 30 days to build a new habit, so exercise at the same time every morning.  teach yourself to put on your workout clothes at the same time every day.  Put the time in your diary.  Start with 5 minutes.  Build up to 10 minutes.  Then stretch yourself to 15, 20 minutes, eventually to 30 minutes each day.  Don’t ‘flog’ yourself.  Small increases in physical activity have a huge impact on your mood and self-esteem.

Remember the PLUS Side

 Exercise will tone and sculpt your body!  You will look and feel healthier.  It’s hard to feel sad or down when your body feels so healthy, slim and trim and full of energy.

If you have difficulty starting, give us a call our therapists can help you overcome the negative feelings associated with long term anxiety, stress and depression.

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