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Exercises for Depression and Anxiety

Choosing the ideal workout regimen is tough

Woman doing exercise at home
Research shows that exercising can help lessen symptoms of depression.

Numerous factors come into play: our schedule, self-confidence, body type, diet, among other things. Let’s face it, sometimes we’re just not in the mindset to work out! However, as good parents, we teach our kids to “just try it.” If they don’t like something, they don’t have to keep doing it, right? Apply those same principles to yourself. Sometimes once we try something, we actually fall in love with it. Just don’t quit in the middle of the process.

Half the battle is showing up

Maybe you’ve achieved some major fitness goals, maybe you haven’t. The key to conquering your workout journey is to first just show up! When depression symptoms creep in, immediately take matters into your own hands. Grab your yoga mat. Get in your car and go to the gym. Text your sitter to see what days she can come this week. Start moving in the early a.m. to kick-start that endorphin rush. Whatever it is, make your self-commitment urgent and top priority.

Treat your exercise program like you would your career or family

Consistency is key. Exercise has mental health benefits, yes. But sometimes we don’t know what types of exercises to do. Some of us need variety in our daily routine, while others prefer structured recreation. Finding an exercise program for depression and anxiety does not have to be difficult nor stressful.

While the internet has plenty of suggestions, we recommend finding something that slips on as smoothly as Cinderella’s glass slipper did. Don’t worry if you don’t find the right “fit” at first. It took the prince’s servants quite some time to find her the right slipper. If you think you may need some help or accountability to get going, The Raleigh House has an Outpatient Mental Health Treatment program that offers various experiential therapy activities.

Until then, try one or all of the following exercise program(s) for depression:

HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) – Gym or Fitness Center

First, jump on the elliptical for 15-30 min. It’s low impact and great for warming up muscles. Interval training with weights is next. Hire a trainer to show you what to do or get creative and have fun making your own, following workouts like this. Start a journal to track your progress. If you’d like to read someone’s success story doing HIIT, here’s a good one.

Bikram Yoga – Yoga Studio

Being in a heated room for 90 minutes isn’t just a sweat session; it helps increase your focus. When you first enter class, you may have a nonstop stream of thoughts that aren’t always positive. You quickly realize that engaging in nonstop thinking is nearly impossible in that kind of environment. The heat and humidity forces you to turn your focus toward the act of breathing and existing in the moment. This translates to more focus during day-to-day life.It reduces cortisol and stress levels, and improves sleep and mental endurance, because it teaches your brain you can get through tough times again and again. Strengthening, toning, detoxifying, cardio, internal healing, and other benefits like hormone balancing or metabolism boosting also occur.

Structured Recreation – Group Settings

Exercise and depression statistics show working out in groups or social settings can also help fight off depression. Boxing, rock climbing, and hiking are next up on our recommendation list! No matter where you live, simply getting some fresh air and enjoying the scenic landscape is known to lift spirits. Try going for a quick walk or work your way up to a longer run with friends for a fantastic runner’s high. Dr. Muzina breaks down some of these effects on this page.

If you’d like to read more on our recommendations, check out this article: The 3 Best Exercises for Anxiety and Depression

You’ve got this. See you on the trails … or in the gym … or at a yoga studio, near you!

Should you think of any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our admissions team or give us a call today.

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