Can you think of an exercise benefit for depression? Experts swear by the usefulness of exercising in helping to relieve depression. There are literally hundreds of studies and experiences of real people, like you and I, who have benefitted from regular exercise. You can find some examples of that here, here and here.
Some research goes as far as to claim that depression can be prevented if you exercise regularly and that it can help mild depression. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I had been told this years ago, maybe I would have joined the track team and swam for the country!
What’s the hype anyway?
A big deal, actually. Exercise isn’t just a fad or middle-age crisis situation anymore. It’s a way of life. A life that is more fulfilling, healthier and less stressful.
So where do you fit in?
Below are 25 reasons why you should be exercising so you can beat depression with a kick in the butt.
You feel good afterward
I personally enjoy the feel-good feeling I get after good exercise, which for me, more often than not, is dancing or walking. I feel like I can take over the world and I know you will too. This is a super duper, tried and proven exercise benefit for depression.
2. It improves your overall well-being
Depression will make you feel some tye of way, and half the time, you can’t even explain it. When you exercise, you improve yourself not only physically, but mentally too. Exercise helps you to clear your mind, lessen brain fog and gives you better clarity on matters. If your mind and body are at peace, then life is good, right?
3. You feel more energetic
Energy is something we as depressed people crave at times. Seeing a young chld with so much life can fill us with envy. Depression saps us of energy in all forms. Exercise does the complete opposite. After you’ve done it for a few times (at least two weeks, ladies), you start to see and feel a difference in your general outlook on life. Yay, exercise!
4. You’re less stressed
Many diseases like depression and anxiety are caused, largely in part by stress. It’s no wonder it’s one of our biggest enemies in this modern day and age. It’s important to find out depression triggers and causes so you can stay far away from them. Exercise will help you focus on what’s important: your mental and physical well-being.
5. It helps keeps your mind from negative thoughts and feelings
This is another exercise benefit for depression I love. When I’m exercising, I’m not worrying about how why I didn’t finish that post from last week. I’m worrying about the lactic acid burning my thighs. Like they say, no pain, no gain. I’m getting ready or summer, so my body must be on fleek. Bring on the burn!
6. It can help you feel part of a community if done with others
If you’re not about exercising alone, ask a friend to join you. Or you could join a dance or aerobic class. This helps you feel less lonely and also helps you come out of your shell. It’s encouraging to be with people who have the same goals and are as passionate about reaching them as you are. Girl power!
7. Your body temperature increases
Apparently, this is actually good because it helps to calm your body. I know I need some calming in my life, so yes to exercise. This exercise benefit for depression especially comes in handy if you live in a cold area or you suffer from anemia and feel the cold more than the average Joe. Exercise to warm those buns, hun.
8. It’s natural
Of all the exercise benefits for depression on this list, I think this one trumps them all. No need for medication that makes you feel like a zombie or gives you horrible side effects. There are so many meds on the market, but few actually address the problem of depression. And did you know that medications must be prescribed by a qualified medical professional? I’m about that natural life, and you should be too.
9. Your confidence skyrockets
Setting small attainable goals is one thing. Reaching them is another. Start small. For example, you could start with a 5-minute walk around your block. You could increase it to a 10-minute walk after three days. After another three days to 15, and so on and so forth. The more you achieve, the better you feel. Just remember to pace yourself. Don’t set yourself up for failure by demanding too much of yourself. A small step at a time is better in the long run. And when you can do what you set your ind oo, your confidenc oozes out of you.
10. It can be fun
I’m talking Zumba, hip hop dancing, biking, and hiking. Choose whatever form of exercise makes your heart sing. Aerobics can even be done in the comfort of your home. So if you’re self-conscious, you can always do it from home, without judging eyes, Shake that booty, baybay!
11. You sleep better
I’m in the pursuit of better sleep so you know this exercise benefit for depression is a top priority. Physical activity is almost synonymous with good sleep. Haven’t you found that you sleep best when your body is physically tired? Exercise does the same thing. Just in this case, it’s a two-fold benefit. You get to sleep and you get fit. Two for one, anyone?
12. It improves your self-esteem
What is one of the first things people notice about you? Besides your sexy legs and curves, it’s your confidence, closely linked to self-esteem. Naturally, depressed people sometimes lack self-esteem because of their mental illness. This is not their fault. By exercising, though, you’re fighting this negative and uncalled for feeling. When you do better, you feel better and everyone around you will notice it and be drawn to you.
13. You release endorphins
These wonderful chemicals are released when you exercise and make you happy. Granted, other activities can make you happy (you may think of any, including the not so healthy ones) but this one works best because it’s long term. Any ritual done over a sustained period of time becomes a lifestyle, which in turn, becomes a way of life. If you exercise regularly, you’ll be feeling a lot happier a lot more often. I’d say exercise is our new happy pill, wouldn’t you agree?
14. Your heart becomes stronger
I have a weak heart (literally) and sometimes, when I overdo things, I feel it beating very slowly and I literally feel like I’m about to die. A slow and painful death at that. However, when I exercise, my heartbeat races, but it’s a good thing. I think. The point is exercise gets all your muscles going and the blood pumping through your veins. Granted, you must take it easy. However, exercising in small, regular doses will help your heart get into a rhythm that keeps you alive and kicking.
15. Exercise reduces blood pressure
Attention all high blood pressure sufferers. This one’s for you. This exercise benefit for depression is well explained in this article by Mayo Clinic. Remembe, to be consistent with exercise otherwise your blood pressure could go up again.
16. Exercise helps reduce body fat
OK, ladies, I know that, like me, you’ve been struggling to get rid of that flab on your tummy, under your thighs, arms and/or everywhere else. Exercise is our remedy! You can find some useful tips from Body Building, Muscle Fitness and CoachMag.
17. Improved muscle tone and strength
Continuing from the previous point, exercising makes you sexy! And it makes you physically stronger, meaning you’ll live a rich and fulfilling (almost) pain-free life. Do you ever envy Beyonce’s thick thighs or Rihanna’s toned legs? Exercise, my friend. Get those calves in shape. You can learn more about the benefits of muscle toning here, here and here.
18. Exercise strengthens and builds bones
Bones are living tissue and more form when we do physical activity. They are, therefore, essential to our well-being and need to be taken care of with the utmost care. Calcium intake is important in this regard, whether in tablet or food form. It can also prevent osteoporosis whch you can read about here in great detail.
19. You look fit and healthy
The best part is that you’re not deceiving anyone. What is happening on the inside is showing on the outside. When you look good, you feel good. And when you feel good, you do good.
20. It’s safe (generally)
This is true when you don’t overdo things and try and show off to the hunk of a man across you in the gym. Please don’t act like these trainers and health freaks we see on the web all day, every day. You are not yet there. Stay in your lane. Do what your body tells you it can do.
21. It lifts your mood
In the same way your loved one, ice cream, a beautiful song or a warm, bubble bath lifts your mood. I love this exercise benefit for depression because it acually works. I feel better when I’ve done something physical. I feel like I’ve achieved something worthwhile, even if it was only a 10-minute walk. Best believe I want you to share that feeling too.
22. Exercise can be done in as little as 10 minutes
Unlike many things in life that are rather time-consuming, exercise doesn’t have to be one of them. This is unless, of course, you decide to become the next fitness guru. If you want to keep a low profile like myself, then you’ll be content to do even 10 minutes a day, be it walking, skipping or dancing. As long as you do it, don’t get carried away with the time you take to do it. You’ll get there.
23. Improved mental health
We’re trying to beat depression, right? So what better exercise benefit for depression than the peace of mind you get, knowing that you won’t be so worried or stressed? You’ll focus on what’s impotant. You’ll live in the present and enjoy doing so. Depression’s got nothing on us, ladies, thanks to exercise.
24. It’s cheap!
I don’t have money to splurge, so walking around my block is as good as it gets. Same for you. If you can afford a gym, then by all means do so. But don’t break the bank to do so. There are so many inexpensive ways to exercise, most of which I have tried.
25. Anyone can do it
That’s right. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, how much money you have or whatever. We can all do it. And it doesn’t have to be expensive, elaborate or hardcore.
Now for the practical, fun stuff.
What exercises can I do?
Here’s a great starter list offered by WebMD:
- Golf (walking instead of using the cart)
- Housework, especially sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming
- Jogging at a moderate pace
- Low-impact aerobics
- Playing tennis
- Yard work, especially mowing or raking
Important Factors to Note Before, After and During Exercise
- Do something you enjoy.
- Try and get someone to join you when you exercise or have an accountability buddy.
- Make exercise a priority.
- Don’t spend your hard-earned cash on expensive qeuipment or gyms.
- Don’t ignore any pain you suffer when exercising.
- Speak to your doctor before you engage in any form of exercise you’re unfamiliar with
- Have fun!
Here’s a challenge for you for this week. Try and exercise for 10 minutes or more this week for three days or more. Let me know how it goes by commenting below! I’ll share my endeavours too.