17 thoughts on “Exercise for Depression: Suggestions for Making It Possible

  • August 3, 2011 at 3:52 am

    It is certainly one of the worst aspects of depression that you can often be too depressed to do the things that can help alleviate your worst symptoms.

    I think you have to cling tight to those rare moments when the fog lifts and you can see the sun again. If you can take some action then – walking, talking, connecting with others, then you can make some progress.

    Personally I find gardening to be a great way to exercise when depressed. Planting and nurturing plants gives you some sense of a future to look forward to as you wait and hope for the plant to thrive.

  • August 3, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Martin I completely agree with the first two paragraphs

  • August 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Thanks for the ideas.
    I come from a activity background that unless movement is part of my activites I do not seek it out, and have many unused gym memberships to show for it.
    I have lived with roommates that were models of fitness but it was not contagious.

    I find yard work and walking my cat on a leash to be as much as I can handle now.
    Walking the cat is mostly standing and waiting for him to smell ‘everything’. But he is learning to walk on command.
    And I feel guilty for not exercising and especially bad when my cat wants to go for a walk and I can not force myself to make it happen. Even taking him out and tethering him to the tree and sitting on the step watching him is too much.
    Even the direction of my Pdoc to exercise, is not a enough, again adds to my guilt.

    This article helps me feel less alone/guilty as I now recognise that it is not just me that is exercised challenged. Look forward to exploring the sugggestions.

    • August 3, 2011 at 1:46 pm

      Gently: No you are not alone – and those things you are doing in your yard and the training of your little furry companion are not nothing. Your comment is, I am sure, welcomed by many readers who feel the challenge and wish they could walk more. Keep your eye on what you do, recognize its value and be curious about how to move it an inch or how your cat finds a way to move an extra inch – Thanks again for sharing – Suzanne

  • August 3, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Martin: Thanks for this inspiring comment and for sharing ” gardening ” as a possibility to turn to when depression makes exercise difficult. I think you are in the company of many who find invigoration and peace among their beautiful plants and flowers. When speaking about resiliency with groups – I have found there are always many who identify their gardening as an invaluable resource. Best to you and thanks, Suzanne

  • August 3, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    These are very useful suggestions; I’m linking to this article, because figuring out how to exercise when depressed is a common issue for many of my clients. Thanks!

  • August 3, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    I think those who are depressed find it hard to exercise because they see it as some hard work, and you know depression leaves you no strength, the thought of doing something rigorous can be frighten. But to me exercise can be anything that you do that lifts your mood.

    For example, I like to talk, being alone can make me moody, to sheer myself up I can just go to a neighbor’s room and make light discussions, find something to make me laugh, listen to some music, walk down the street to a friend’s place and relax talking for some minutes.

    So when exercising is recommended, it doesn’t mean you have to buy a book, or follow an exercise manual. Remember that the goal is to lift your mood, so find what works for you, that is very important, I mean that it works for you.

    Like a commenter mentioned gardening. So what do you love to do that makes you happy? When depressed, it’s important you focus on those things so that you can keep your mood lighter regularly.

  • August 3, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    Your reply was incredibly eye opening and supportive.
    Today at an appointment. I was giving a concept to consider.
    : I love to feel comfortable in my body.:

  • August 3, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    Roberta: Thanks for linking to this blog – the idea is to pass forward any ideas and readers’ comments that can benefit others – Suzanne

  • August 4, 2011 at 3:57 am

    Thanks for your kind words Suzanne. There is actually some solid research from the UK charity Thrive about the beneficial effect of gardening on mood.

    I used to volunteer at one of Thrive’s horticultural therapy centers and whilst many of the clients had mental disabilities other than depression, it was clear that the process of working with plants was a therapeutic one.

    I guess this was not all due to the effects of exercise and the outdoor environment but probably had something to do with the socializing and team working involved.

    Put it all together and it can really work. For the purposes of this post, I suppose the socializing aspect says something about the benefits of exercising with others.

    I too have linked to this post. I just need to get out and do more exercise myself now 😉

  • August 4, 2011 at 9:02 am

    Karol: Thanks for your comment – Yes the very idea that you move ” exercise” out of the vigorous work category, as you say, and move it into something you enjoy – like your idea of walking down the block to talk to someone – the more natural and possible it feels- Suzanne

  • August 5, 2011 at 12:55 am

    Wow! That’s a lot of good information. It’s amazing how the body responds to good stress. Exercise is such a great stimulant.

  • August 5, 2011 at 1:29 am

    I object to the suggestion that a pet can be ‘used’ as a means to get your exercise. A pet is a living creature with rights of it’s own, not supposed to be used as a tool for our wellness.
    In my idea we are there to take care of the pet, the pet is not supposed to take care of US. The note that you may simply let them out the door shows lack of respect for the animal, as I see it.

    • August 5, 2011 at 10:44 am

      Jessi: The sentiment is that doing something for someone or a pet we love wants inevitably helps them and also us. The message is that instead of ” just letting them out” – look at the needs of your Jasper, Lincoln, or Callie and walk with them – loving them and appreciating the mutual love is what is therapeutic – Suzanne

  • August 6, 2011 at 9:43 am

    Great article. i know exercise has helped me overcome many bouts of depression.
    My Mom was not athletic but she would run out and shop-she may not have bought anything but she was out walking and looking.
    Perhaps psychologists when seeing patients, should walk and talk instead of sitting still in a room. Or start each session with a couple of stretches and deep breaths. One of my elementary public school teachers would start the morning and afternoon with a few of those at our desks. It’s a good thing that schools require physical education class in order to graduate.
    At work, we have employee fitness classes that are offered before work during lunch and after work. They are open to the public also at Eisenhower Park at the Nassau County Aquatic Center. Classes are yoga, zumba, fitness, swimming, weight bearing excercises, spinning, aerobics and even belly dancing.

  • September 6, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Suzanne and Jessi,

    I was reviewing this blog on exercise, and messages.
    Thanks Suzanne for saying what I did not.

    I never intended to imply that I let my cat out without supervision. He really likes to get out of the house (even though he has a cat run) getting out is better than getting brushed.
    In my city cat’s are not allowed out unsupervised. I can see that most places do not have that bylaw and would assume my cat was “just let out”.

    Jessi, as I volunteer fostering cat’s for a no kill foundation, I have seen the way animals can be mistreated and like you, I try to speak for the voiceless.

  • May 1, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Thanks for including the link to this article on your important website. Any information that informs and supports those who struggle with depression is incredibly important- Suzanne


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