By Andrew Bicknell
Special to Nursezone
The last thing most people who suffer from depression want to do is exercise. The dark hole of depression can make even getting out of bed a seemingly impossible task. If you suffer from depression it is imperative that you see your doctor or a therapist first, but don’t be surprised if they prescribe some sort of exercise regimen for you to follow in addition to some of the more normal treatments for depression.
Benefits of Exercise on Depression
Now as hard as it may seem to get out and start exercising when you are depressed, there are some real benefits to be had. Exercise:
- Improves your confidence. As you get in better shape you will gain more confidence in yourself and your ability to meet your goals.
- Increases your self-esteem. Exercise will improve your appearance and your sense of self worth. It will also improve your health and vitality.
- A distraction. Having a set schedule for your exercise routine, no matter what it is, gives you something to look forward to and can help take your mind off of your problems.
- Stress relief. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and frustration.
- Getting out. Exercising allows you to get out and interact with other people, whether at the gym or just greeting people during your nightly walk.
- Good coping strategy. Exercise is beneficial to anyone who does it. It is a positive way to deal with depression, anxiety or stress because you will benefit in the long run from it.
An important thing to remember is that as hard as it may seem to start exercising when you are depressed is that if you can get started the benefits will far outweigh any negative thoughts you may have about doing it. And once you get going, don’t give up. Once you’ve decided to start exercising make sure you don’t over do it. Because nothing will cause you to loose all interest than a sore and broken body. Here are some general guidelines to consider before you start your exercise program.
1. Talk to your doctor or therapist first. They can help guide you and refer you to someone who can help you set up an exercise program that’s right for you.
2. Set simple goals. Exercise should be fun and make you feel good. Don’t approach it like you are training for the Olympics. Start easy and build from there.
3. Go with what you enjoy. If you have worked out in the past and enjoyed what you were doing, start with that again. For some people just simply going for a walk is enjoyable for them.
4. Find a workout buddy. Exercising with a friend is great for helping lift your mood. It gives you someone to talk to and enjoy your workout with.
5. Go outside. Getting out in the fresh air and sun is always a good way to improve your mood. Even if you workout in a gym, take time to go for a walk a couple of times a week.
6. Don’t let setbacks get you down. Some days you may not be able to get in your exercise. Don’t let that bother you, it happens to everyone. Keep at it and you will see your growth.
Using exercise as a treatment for depression is a growing trend. You should always consult your doctor or therapist when you are feeling depressed or exhibit symptoms of depression. Embarking on an exercise program alone may not solve your depression. It may need to be used in conjunction with other treatments such as medication and therapy. Taken together with these other therapies, exercise can be a great way to help battle your depression.