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How Working Out Can Help With Autism And Depression

I used to be a fitness buff you guys. Like I had this 25-minute routine I’d do on the floor in my dorm room no matter how I was feeling. It didn’t matter if I had a cold, if it was too hot, etc. Those squats were happening.

Having that kind of discipline made me feel better about myself than anything else I can remember.

I had an ab-crack. I was a bitch about it too. I’d walk around in tight tops with my jeans falling down so everyone had to look at my abs. I won’t be like that again. Having a good, strong body should be for your own pride and not to lord over other people.

But for the most part, out of all the things you could define yourself by, fitness is a pretty good one.

Being fit is more difficult than it should be for a lot of people because we live in a culture of immediate gratification. And that’s why it’s so important. It trains you to take small steps in order to achieve a large goal.

Working out gives you better focus. The endorphins make you both more energetic and calmer. Also (and this is more of a personal observation) the testosterone boost exercise gives you can put some extra power behind your writing. You need to live life with a jolt like that. It helps in so many ways.

There’s nothing like walking around feeling like you’re the best you can be. I would never have said this ten years ago, but a hot body isn’t actually the most important thing on Earth. But if you can accomplish that, it will give you more confidence about other things too.

Working out is also good for autistics. Generally (and this is by no means all cases) we’re kind of clumsy. We have lower muscle tone. Working out can make us feel more competent.

Exercise is also the only thing you can do completely alone. Think about it. If you throw yourself into your career, you have to work with other people. Other people have to like your art. There is no other activity that I can think of that you can excel in 100% by yourself. To be fit, you don’t need talent. You don’t need any charm. The standards for a healthy body are almost entirely universal and almost anybody can achieve them.

There’s absolutely nothing subjective about it. Which is great for people who have trouble with nuance.

Fitness is a gloriously democratic thing. You need determination and a small amount of time. That’s it. No hot yoga or Zumba is needed unless that’s your particular thing. No pomp. No money. No eucalyptus-infused hand towels. Fitness culture can get beyond ridiculous. Just think of ancient Greece. They were way more fit than we are. Anyone who tries to commodify health is an asshole.

A healthy body is a great baseline. It gives you pride, more energy, and more focus. It’s something you and you alone have worked for. Once you put in the time, it’s something you can have and cherish and carry around with you no matter what else is going on in your life. It’s yours, and nobody can take it away.



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How Working Out Can Help With Autism And Depression

Gwendolyn Kansen

Gwen Kansen is a mental health writer in New York. She likes food, karaoke, and smart-but-campy books & TV. She's hoping to capture a little sliver of life on here that might not be the first thing you'd see.

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APA Reference
Kansen, G. (2016). How Working Out Can Help With Autism And Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 9 Aug 2016
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