Exercising when depressed

Easier said than done! 5 tips to help you exercise when you’re depressed.

Exercising can help reduce symptoms of depression, but when you’re feeling down, getting moving can feel next to impossible.

Here are 5 tips for exercising when depressed:

  1. Don’t think you need to “feel the burn”. For the purposes of managing depression, a 15 to 20-minute walk will do the trick. You don’t need to train for a marathon or bench press your weight.
  2. Trick yourself, part one: get dressed in exercise clothes. Sure, you might be rocking baggy sweat pants and a t-shirt. But you can go on a walk in that. Make sure to put on your shoes too. It’s hard to hide in bed with your shoes on.
  3. Trick yourself, part two: Sit on the floor. That’s easy because it doesn’t take much energy, right? Then reach for your toes. That’s pretty easy, too. Just relax. See how that feels. You are stretching! That is better than being sedentary. You might start feeling some warm tingly stretchy feelings that encourage you to keep stretching. Suddenly, you are doing what many would consider to be yoga for 15 minutes! You rule! You are exercising when depressed!
  4. Try the 7-minute workout. Seven minutes? Piece of cake! In seven minutes, you’ll do 12 exercises using only your body weight, a chair and a wall. It’s based on science, and it works out your major muscle groups plus gives you a little cardio as well. You can find free 7-minute workout apps to force, er, direct you through the workout.
  5. Set a timer and move. Instead of thinking about working out, just stay moving, even if it’s cleaning or decluttering your house or watering your plants. I get it: it can be hard to move at all when you feel depressed. Doing something is better than doing nothing, so just move and call it a win.

Want more information about depression and exercise?

This Psych Central article addresses more ideas for exercising when you’re depressed. This article includes some more practical suggestions for exercising when depressed, such as listening to an audio book while you walk, making a walking date with a friend, and having a pet who needs exercise.

Depression is the pits. If you’re struggling and you want some professional help for depression, I work with adults in online therapy in 29 states. Please feel free to reach out. If I’m not the right fit as your therapist, I can help you find someone who is.

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