Last modified on 6 April 2010, at 15:09

Living With Depression/Exercise

Get Moving!

Exercise can be extremely beneficial to mental health. When you are depressed, exercise may be the last thing you feel like doing, but even gentle exercise can lift your mood. Exercise makes the body release endorphins which lift your mood for the time you are exercising. It can also be very effective for helping you to focus your mind and think clearly.

The type and intensity of exercise that will help you the most depends on what you enjoy and how physically fit you are. If you are out of the habit of regular exercise then one of the best ways to get moving is to start walking. This is also a low-stress way to force yourself out of the house if you are becoming isolated. Set yourself goals, starting with something fairly easy, say a five minute walk up the road. Each day, try to go a little further until you are walking at least 30 minutes a day. Try to vary your route and try to find pleasant surroundings to walk through. If you live in the countryside or near or a park, so much the better. If you have a dog, then that can be a great motivator for getting out for walks. If not, consider offering your services as a dog walker.

If you are functioning quite well and already manage to leave the house every day, then you need to set different goals for yourself. Maybe you are already getting some degree of physical activity, but it could be increased or focused. Why don't you take up a new sport, or join your local gym? Going to the gym doesn't have to mean working out on exercise machines or pumping iron (although that may appeal to you!) See what other activities or classes your gym provides; you may be able to take part in aerobics, kick-boxing or squash. They might also help you with setting personal fitness goals. If you don't have a local gym, or don't want to join, look for adverts in the local paper that might advertise classes, groups or teams looking for members. Look on the internet.

Some ideas

If you want to increase your activity levels, it's the perfect time to try something completely new.

  • Aerobics
  • Badminton
  • Ballet dancing
  • Ballroom dancing
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Belly dancing
  • Boxing
  • Circuit training
  • Cricket
  • Cross-country running
  • Cycling
  • Football (American)
  • Football (Aussie rules)
  • Football (soccer)
  • Golf
  • Karate
  • Kick-boxing
  • Hockey (field)
  • Hockey (on ice)
  • Ice skating
  • Jive dancing
  • Judo
  • Jujutsu
  • Kung fu
  • Latin dancing
  • Netball
  • Rowing
  • Rugby
  • Running
  • Salsa dancing
  • Skipping
  • Squash
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Taekwondo
  • Tai chi
  • Tap dancing
  • Tennis
  • Walking
  • Weight training
  • Yoga