- Dancing, Gardening, Sports...
- Jogging, Running, Swimming...
- Walking, Hiking, Martial Arts...
- Gym & Personal Training
- Yoga & Meditation
- Final Thoughts
Can Exercise really help with Depression?
There are many forms of physical and mental exercise that help to alleviate the symptoms of depression. All of them can be practiced individually or as part of a balanced approach, that incorporates all or some of either the entire discipline, or its individual specific parts.
It is definitely wisest when considering which exercises to employ to work with both types of exercise. Develop a personal practice that utilizes both physical and mental exercise and you will see that while the physical exercise has a great ability to make you feel good in the short term, it is mental exercise that will have a long lasting effect on your mind.
When combined these two will create a radical transformation in you and in the way, you think and feel about your life.
First, let’s take a look at some physical exercises that can aid in alleviating the symptoms of depression.
Dancing (My favorite)
Dancing has the ability to take you away from the world and into a space of pure expression of the physical form. This doesn’t have to be the traditional kind of dancing that occurs with two people, though it can be if you choose, it can also be done by yourself at home in your pajamas if this is what you prefer.
Don’t restrict yourself too much with proper forms or rules, just let your body move however it wants and learn to remain present with it while it does.
It can be done with or without music and all that is required is that you stand up and let your body move. However, music on its own has tremendous healing powers, and should never be underestimated as to its role in helping to improve mood and instill feelings of calm and happiness.
Being outdoors in the garden is a great way to uplift your spirit. Taking your time to connect intimately to the landscape can have a powerful effect on how you feel. At the same time your physical body is being active and so is encouraging the release of chemicals that make you feel good. Immersing yourself in the sensations of the garden, the scent of flowers, the feeling of the wind and sun on your skin, will have a rejuvenating effect on both body and mind.
Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment! Oprah Winfrey
Any sport at all, including golf, hockey, basketball, football can be utilized here, just make sure it is something that interests you and that is not too physically demanding for you current level of fitness and physical ability. These can also be experienced alone or as part of a group and in either case you will feel the benefits of the physical exercise, however if you are doing sports with other people you may find that the social aspect helps to improve your mood because of the interaction and communication that takes place.
Just remember not to take the sports too seriously if they are competitive, the most important thing here is that you enjoy the time spent doing the activity.
Yes, even good old housework can be used as a means of physical exercise. Obviously there is a lot of physical effort involved in doing work around the home so this will have a positive effect on your physical body, but also at the same time you will feel really good mentally about getting the work done, and the cleanliness of the space that you have developed. Housework works wonders to improve your physical and mental condition.
There is also an interesting side effect of cleaning and organizing your home as it can actually mimic organization of the mind, and allows you to feel more in control, as opposed to clutter and chaos, which has the opposite effect.
Simple jogging outdoors is a great way to encourage greater levels of fitness and physical health. Make sure you have a decent pair of running shoes and remember to take your time with this exercise. This is all about being outdoors and enjoying yourself so don’t place too many high expectations on yourself and just have fun with it.
Running is a more intense form of jogging, performed at greater speeds but following many of the same rules as jogging. A great way of improving physical fitness, stamina and endurance, this is a brilliant form of exercise that doesn’t need any costly equipment, other than perhaps a half decent pair of running shoes. Always run in a safe environment and keep an eye open for pedestrians and traffic if running in public spaces.
Swimming is an all-round exercise that works every part of your physical body. At the same time, your mind will feel refreshed from being submerged in water. Try to do this in the ocean or a natural lake or river if possible but only if it’s safe enough to swim in. This will greatly improve your physical fitness, overall health, and sense of mental well being.
Walking in the great outdoors is a great way to give your mind a break and to gently encourage greater levels of physical fitness and health. Get yourself some decent shoes though, especially if you are going to walk for long distances. It is recommended to start with short distances and if you want to push yourself, slowly work up to walking further and further each day.
Consider Hiking as a more advance form of walking and take into account the same approach as above. Hiking however is done with a hill or mountain in mind. Remember that if you are going to hike for lengthy periods of time you are going to want to take a ‘day-pack’ with you that contains food, water, and safety equipment. Many places that you can hike will have no phone-reception and so always tell at least one other person where you are going and how long you intend to be hiking for.
Definitely one of the most recommended means of physical exercise, Martial Arts not only has the ability to cater for all levels it also greatly impacts people mentally as well as physically.
Choose a specific form of Martial Art that looks interesting to you and find yourself an instructor who has experience teaching beginners.
Many Martial Artists are also experienced counsellors or are people who have personally battled with depression and can offer great insight into using Martial Arts Training to combat this.
Gym & Personal Training
Another great means of inspiring greater levels of physical health and wellbeing is through training at a Gym with a personal trainer. This is another very highly recommended method of improving physical wellbeing because it has the ability to affect every area of the physical body.
Personal training can be tailored to all levels of ability and can allow a person to choose which area of focus they want concentrate on such as weight loss, weight gain, muscle building, strength building etc.
This is by no-means a comprehensive list of activities that involve physical exercise but it should certainly serve as a way of opening your mind up to some of the ways in which you can encourage exploration of physical exercise.
Now let’s take a look at some of the various forms of mental exercise that you can investigate to help you with conquering the state of depression.
Yoga is an ancient discipline that touches both physical and mental aspects of a person’s life and also has the ability to develop greater levels of spiritual awareness. The natural result of continued Yoga practice is greater physical health, strength, and endurance, along with greater mental calm, clarity, and sense of wellbeing.
There are many different branches of Yoga from which a practitioner can choose to learn and so it is important to find the one that works best for you. It is the perfect discipline to be used as a method of overcoming the state of depression because it encourages a completely holistic approach to life, includes mindfulness, breathing, and meditation within the practice, and provides calm to the mind, and peace to the spirit.
This is another discipline that has many different forms and techniques that are used to develop greater control over the mind.
The practice of meditation has been repeatedly proven to be extremely effective at overcoming depression and encourages a person to take control of their thoughts and develop the ability to experience profound and powerful states of happiness.
Depression medications works by stimulating the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. A study conducted by the University of Montreal found that meditation offers you the opportunity to naturally boost levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine.
In 1996, a University of Washington study found that the hippocampus was incredibly underdeveloped in individuals suffering from depression and that damage was more severe in those with prolonged depression. Thankfully, this damage isn’t permanent and meditation helps revive the hippocampus to help treat and even prevent depression.
The fight or flight stress response triggers the amygdala region of the brain, causing it to become overheated and flood the body with hormones that can damage mental health. A study conducted by Harvard found that meditation not only helps you learn to control the triggering of the fight of flight stress response, but it also improves the health of the amygdala.
Most people suffer from depression because they feel incomplete, something that easily occurs when life changes in a significant way, meditation brings calm and peace, makes you feel whole again and helps you get back on your feet.
Some key types of meditation are Vipassana, Transcendental, Mindfulness, Guided, Sleep, Walking, Mantra, Metta (Loving Kindness), Qigong (Chi Gung), Chakra and Zazen. There are many other types of meditation but these ones certainly contain the power to bring about great mental transformation.
What is the best form of meditation for depression?
A study published by psychologists from the University of Exeter in the U.K showed that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, or MBCT may actually be more effective than counseling or medication, citing that four months after MBCT, three fourths of study subjects felt well enough to stop taking antidepressants.
Mark Williams, an Oxford professor of clinical psychology and the leader of the team that developed MBCT cites that brooding is one of the key features seen in patients with depression and MBCT specifically tackles brooding to teach compassion for self and others.
One of the most powerful and profound forms of exercise that actually incorporates aspects of both physical and mental exercise is Tai Chi. This discipline has the ability to bring great calm and clarity to the practitioner and also rejuvenates the physical body.
The practitioner learns to focus their mind on the body and the breath and this causes any fluctuations in thought or emotion to settle, allowing a moment of respite from any internal anguish or suffering.
Many people report that even after only a single session of Tai Chi practice they feel full of energy and alive, an obviously beneficial feeling to anyone who is suffering from depression.
Having a space in which the mind can experience great calm too has a very beneficial effect on the practitioner’s mental state.
Hopefully, at this point you have a much more clear understanding of depression, how it can be recognized, how it can affect a person’s life, and most importantly how to combat it.
Depression really is one of the most misunderstood states of mind that people experience and at the same time, it is one of the most common.
If you are struggling with depression please do not hesitate to reach out for help, nine out of ten people that you ask will have experienced some form of depression in their life or know someone who has, so really you are not alone.
Use the techniques outlined in this book to encourage greater inspiration and motivation for yourself and join forces with other people to develop long-lasting and healthy relationships.
The route of traditional medicine is open to you but as mentioned in this report, there are many complementary methods of conquering depression that can only serve to improve your wellbeing and quality of life.
We have done our best to cover the essence of some of these here and we hope that this information will serve you well. Good luck in reawakening your inspiration, and we hope that you find exactly what you need to bring about the changes you seek.
Stay well and take care.