The Importance of Exercise during Depression
By: Beth McHugh 2009
Depression affects such a large proportion of the population that any helpful adjunct to traditional Western medicine is a useful tool for the sufferer. Exercise is one such method to help alleviate the effects of depression on both the body and the mind.
When a person is moderately to severely depressed, one of the last things they want to do is exercise. There literally is no interest in anything, so jogging merrily around the block or doing rounds of lunges at the local gym or even in front of an exercise DVD is not going to appeal to the depressed. Nor should it.
But it is extremely important that some exercise is undertaken every day, or most days, because the chemicals excreted by the body during exercise are fundamental to improving the mood and motivation of the depressed person.
So while I am not advocating signing up for a gym membership, because during the early stages of recovery doing that would actually be counterproductive mentally, as well as a waste of money financially, what I am advocating is movement of some sort.
Even though you will not want to go for a three minute walk, do so. Even though you will not want to peg the clothes on the line and then bring them in when they are dry, do so. Sit in the sun and pull five minutes worth of weeds out and then have a break.
Just performing those tasks will probably make you feel exhausted, but that is good. The exhaustion means that you have done an appropriate amount of exercise for your condition at the moment and it will also help you to sleep better at night. Do this as many days in a row as you can and slowly, over a period of several weeks, your physical strength will return. Do not expect it to return in a week. Depression takes a lot out of the body even though to the casual observer, the depressed person seems to do nothing. Yet their bodies and minds are actually working overtime. This is why it is important to take a little exercise every day, in short bursts.
The worst thing is to lie around in bed all day because you are exhausted. Ironically moving about, no matter how slowly, will actually have an effect over time of making you more physically fit. Not to mention, mentally stimulated again.