Depression Exercise Guidelines - How to Use Exercise As a Treatment for Depression

You may not already know that depression exercise plans are becoming very popular as a way to treat depression using natural methods, so we'll explain some of it here and look at what sort of plan you need to make it effective for your needs.

Did you know that the hormones – known as endorphins – released when you exercise can actually help relieve depression?

If you're depressed, you might just find that exercise can help ease your symptoms without the need to turn to medication.

Keep reading to find out more about how you can beat depression with exercise, but remember to consult your doctor first!

How Do Endorphins From Exercise Help When You're Depressed?

Endorphins are special hormones secreted in your brain, and also your nervous system, and they have a great deal to do with your mood.

These peptides actually activate the same receptors kicked off by powerful, illegal and addictive drugs, without the dangerous and negative side effects.

Put quite simply, working out and exercising can boost your mood, and make you feel happy and self-assured.

So, how do endorphins released when you exercise help improve your mood when you are depressed?

It was in the 1970s when scientists began to study how the human brain interacts with opiates.

Drugs like morphine and heroin cause a very pleasurable experience, but have obvious downsides.

Researchers wanted to know how to duplicate the euphoric feelings that opiates deliver, without the accompanying damage and danger.

They found that specialized receptors in your cells, located primarily in your spinal cord and brain, block pain signals when endorphins are released.

And endorphins are delivered when you exercise, workout, or eat hot peppers and some chocolates.

Even when you have sex. Consider endorphins as your own private narcotic that is natural and healthy.

Unfortunately, even though this natural depression defense system can't wait to go to work to improve your mood, make you feel happy and fulfilled, when you are depressed, working out or exercising is often the last thing on your mind.

Just remember how good you felt the last time you exercised.

Those "feel good" brain chemicals that are released, endorphins, ease depression, and actually reduce the bad immune system chemicals in your body, which can worsen depression.

As you exercise your body temperature rises, which gives you a calming effect.

And emotionally, you gain confidence as you feel better and see your exercise goals and challenges achieved and overcome.

Endorphins are naturally released because of your inherent fight or flight response.

Your brain thinks that your intense physical state may mean that you have to defend yourself.

Because of this, your pain receptors are blocked, and your mood is enhanced.

And all these powerful, positive mood boosters need is a little exercise to get them started.

Feeling down? Rather than doing nothing and miring in your blue mood, go for a jog, practice Pilates or yoga, lift some weights, or just turn up the music and dance.

The endorphins released by your physical exertion and exercise will have you feeling happy and positive in no time.

Does Outdoor Exercise Help More With Depression?

The benefits of outdoor exercise have been confirmed.

And it appears that, in many cases, outdoor exercise better aids in beating depression and negative moods than working out indoors.

A revealing study conducted by the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry concluded that outdoor exercise in a natural environment contributes to your mental and physical well being in ways that were not found in test subjects that conducted the same exercises indoors.

Out of the 833 adult volunteers used in this study, mental well being was boosted substantially higher in those who exercised outdoors as opposed to their indoor counterparts.

The natural endorphins that exercise releases will benefit your mood no matter where you exercise.

And the emotional and mental benefits you receive from working towards your fitness goals are the same whether you exercise at home, in the gymnasium or in a public park.

But whenever you exercise out in nature, you harness the amazing power of the sun that works as a natural mood enhancer.

Sunlight actually boosts the production of vitamin D in your body.

This helps combat seasonal mood changes and depression usually triggered in winter. (More than 500,000 Americans suffer from the depressing effects of seasonal affective disorder or SAD.)

And exposure to the sun while you are exercising gives you a double emotional boost.

Your endorphins naturally begin to work to crush your depression as you exert yourself.

And the effect of sunlight on your skin naturally improves your mood, even after just 10 to 15 minutes of exposure.

Have you ever heard anyone say they are stepping outside to "get a little fresh air"?

Brad M. Reedy, PhD and director of clinical services at Second Nature Wilderness Programs in Duchesne, Utah, says that fresh air, soaking up the sunshine and feeling your toes in the grass, all combine to relieve depression symptoms.

He says that nature has a soothing, calming effect on depression symptoms because of the sights, sounds and smell it provides.

Doctor Reedy also pointed out that getting outdoors as opposed to exercising inside also limits your exposure to poor ventilation, unnatural lighting and other possibly negative man-made environments.

And when you step into the great outdoors, you eliminate a lot of the excuses for exercising.

There is plenty of room, the warm sunshine feels great on your skin, and you immediately feel like getting active.

Because of the natural ability of sunshine to promote the production of vitamin D in your body, that natural depression fighter helps boost your mood.

And the mood enhancers released by exercise, endorphins, help fight the blues as well.

Feeling down? Need a quick pickup? Go for a brisk walk or a jog outside in the sunshine, enjoy the feel, smell, sights and sounds of nature, and you will find your blue mood disappearing much more quickly than if you exercise indoors.

Which Exercises Can Help With Depression?

Since mood-enhancing endorphins are naturally released whenever you physically exert yourself, are there some exercises that help cure depression better than others?

The natural effect which exercise has on improving your mood does not really care which exercises you perform.

You simply have to be involved in a physical state of stress or exertion that is greater than normal.

Endorphins are released to your brain to block pain and enhance a positive mood.

So any exercise, even a brisk walk or jog, can begin to immediately improve your attitude and make you feel happier.

That having been said, you can focus on exercises which require no special equipment if you want to battle your depression more effectively.

Think about it for a second. Any exercises you can perform in just a couple of minutes - yoga, Pilates, stretching, jogging, dancing - remove any excuses you may have for exercising in the first place.

And since they don't require any specialized fitness equipment, heavy weights or particular environment, whenever you feel a fit of depression coming on you can battle it instantly.

Did you know that the sun could actually help immediately relieve symptoms of depression?

Even just 10 or 15 minutes of exposure to sunlight begins to produce vitamin D in your body.

Vitamin D is a wonderful and natural mood booster.

So any exercises you can perform outdoors for even just a few minutes will be more effective at battling depression than indoor activities.

The next time you have a break at work, go outside and perform a few quick jumping jacks.

You can also perform some deep knee bends, stretch your arms and legs, run in place or enjoy a quick yoga or Pilates session.

Studies have shown that endorphins are released almost instantly, whenever your body is physically stressed.

And the benefits from sunshine as a natural vitamin D producer also go to work immediately.

So why not step outside and exercise 2 or 3 times during your day, whether you are depressed or not?

One great way to battle depression is by keeping it at bay.

Don't wait until you feel blue and down in the dumps to take advantage of the natural mood-enhancing abilities that exercising in sunlight can give you.

Make sure to use appropriate sunscreen if you are going to be exposed for more than 15 to 30 minutes, and keep some water handy so you will stay hydrated.

Stuck at your desk and can't get outside? You can still battle depression that often accompanies repetitive and dull office work simply by standing at your desk instead of sitting.

Touch your toes without bending your knees. Keep some light barbells at your desk and exercise throughout the day.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park at the far end of the parking lot to ensure you walk further, and walk to a coworker's desk or office instead of reaching them with e-mail.

These are all great ways for the indoor employee to benefit from the depression crushing endorphins that are naturally released when you exercise.

And if you can get outside in the sunlight for even just a few minutes, all the better.

How To Get Started With Exercise

Whether you are 18 or 80, you need to exercise. Obviously, a senior citizen is going to exercise differently than someone in their teens.

And if you haven't worked out or exercised in a while, you may be wondering how you should get started.

The best way of benefiting from exercise is always to start slow, especially if your physical fitness level is the byproduct of a lethargic and inactive lifestyle.

Follow the 5 powerful steps below to get started with your exercise program, and you will benefit from the total body physical, mental and emotional rewards that physical fitness delivers.

Talk with your doctor about the appropriate exercise plan

No one knows your body better than you do, but sometimes your desires and goals don't mesh with reality.

That is why you should always talk to your doctor about developing a smart but challenging exercise plan, especially if you lead a predominantly sedentary life.

If you haven't been to see your doctor in a while, schedule a complete checkup.

When the results are in, let your doctor know you are serious about getting fit and becoming healthier, and then take that professional advice to heart.

Be honest with yourself, fair but firm

There is a reason that New Year's resolutions boost gym memberships around the world.

That is because so many people resolve to lose weight, burn fat, build a beach body and create six pack abs to kick off every New Year.

But did you know that if more than 5% to 10% of gym members showed up at any one time, there would be too many people to use the equipment?

That is because human beings may have great intentions to exercise and get in shape, but they don't follow-up because they did not honestly create an achievable plan.

Be honest with yourself when you get started with any exercise program, no matter your level of fitness. If you set your goals too high or too low, you will not be happy with the results, and you probably will not stick to your exercise program.

Exercise on a set schedule, at the same time

Several studies have shown that repetition builds habit in most human beings, usually in anywhere from 17 to 28 days.

While everyone is different, it is agreed that the human body begins to do things subconsciously after certain actions and behaviors are repeated for a consistent amount of time.

You don't consciously think about clicking on a light switch when you enter a room, you just do it.

When you need to walk from one location to another, you don't tell yourself to put 1 foot in front of the other, it just happens.

When you begin your exercise program, schedule your periods of exercise on the same days, and at the same times.

Make sure the schedule does not conflict with your personal or work life, adhere to it strictly for at least 4 to 6 weeks, and you will develop subconscious habits that help you stick to your plan.

Record your efforts, and your results

When you get started with exercise, write everything down. On a physical journal or your computer, record your exercises and your results.

The best way to stick to an exercise program over time is to turn it into a healthy habit.

And the easiest way to habitually exercise, especially when you are first getting started and it may be difficult, is by seeing the results of your efforts.

Record your efforts when you first start exercising, and you will find this simple but healthy habit impacting your results positively.

Keep a mood journal

We discussed keeping an exercise performance journal. It is also very important to keep a mood journal, especially when you initially get started.

Exercise releases powerful endorphins in your brain. These amazing mood boosters have been consistently proven to fight depression and give you a sense of well being and satisfaction.

Keeping a mood journal which records your emotional state before and after exercising will give you plenty of positive motivation the next time you are scheduled for exercise and are looking for an excuse to back out.

How Often Do You Need to Exercise and How Long Will It Take to Help Depression?

You may have heard that exercising can help fight depression. But how long do you have to exercise before you start feeling better?

And can you exercise once a month, do you have to exercise once a week, or should you be working out every day?

What type of the schedule do you need to develop for exercise to help boost your mood and fight depression?

The answer is, not as long or as frequently as you may think.

Whenever your body experiences physical stress or you intensely exert yourself, endorphins are released.

These endorphins impair your pain receptors, and boost your feelings of strength, happiness and well being.

This is how exercise can help you battle depression. But how long before endorphins are released when you exercise?

Incredibly, men and women can "de-stress" their minds by stressing their bodies in just 20 minutes through exercise or physical exertion.

Your ability to focus is boosted, depression is kicked to the curb, and these positive mood-enhancing effects can last for up to 12 hours.

That is the belief of John Ratey, M.D., and other important physical fitness experts and researchers.

The "happiness effect" that physical exertion has on your brain has been proven by research which links higher than average levels of brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) and endorphins with exercise.

Doctor Ratey says that BDNF helps promote neural growth and actually repairs damage caused by stress and depression.

And these incredible, natural mood boosters join endorphins to deliver a positive attitude and good mood almost immediately.

Just 20 minutes of exercise on average has been shown to deliver as many as 12 hours of depression-destroying positivity.

Exercise in this case does not necessarily mean lifting a ton of weights or running as fast as you can.

Simply jogging, enjoying a session of Pilates or yoga, climbing stairs or going for a brisk walk can trigger a positive mood that can last for hours.

So, how often should you exercise? Since 20 minutes of physically stressing and pushing your body can deliver up to 12 hours of a positive mood boost, why not practice this simple health and mind enhancer twice a day?

Exercising for 20 or 30 minutes to start your day will have you tackling the world with a positive "I can do anything" mindset.

And at the end of a long work day, another exercise session will keep depression at bay until you rise the next morning and cheat depression once again.

Important!

Put quite simply, working out and exercising can boost your mood, and make you feel happy and self-assured.

Continue to Research

A lot of times, struggling to beat mild forms of depression is mostly the result of a lack of knowledge or understanding of the condition and its causes.

If this is the case, then you should take the time to begin researching the subject it is that you don’t know much about.

There is a lot of power and relief that comes from learning about how to use techniques like depression exercise activities. You’ll be surprised about how much a little research can help you with finding natural ways to be happier.

More Resources

Here are some products to help you deal with depression that you can buy online that I think look very useful:



Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-BeingExercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being$10.57

Yoga for Depression and AnxietyYoga for Depression and Anxiety$10.05

Inhale, Exhale Stretch & MoveInhale, Exhale Stretch & Move$2.99

Conquering Depression and Anxiety Through ExerciseConquering Depression and Anxiety Through Exercise$10.56

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation & ... Tolerance (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation & ... Tolerance (New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)$12.95

Eat and Exercise to Minimize Anxiety and Depression, Session 5 of the Attacking Anxiety and Depression Program - SingleEat and Exercise to Minimize Anxiety and Depression, Session 5 of the Attacking Anxiety and Depression Program - Single$8.99

Yoga for Depression and AnxietyYoga for Depression and Anxiety$13.99

Ann Smith: Inhale, Exhale, Stretch & Move, Slow motion, therapeutic, weight bearing, aerobic, isometric exercise for arthritis, depression, fibromyalgia, lung disease, and many othersAnn Smith: Inhale, Exhale, Stretch & Move, Slow motion, therapeutic, weight bearing, aerobic, isometric exercise for arthritis, depression, fibromyalgia, lung disease, and many others$8.90

Manage Your Depression through Exercise: A 5-Week Plan to a Happier, Healthier YouManage Your Depression through Exercise: A 5-Week Plan to a Happier, Healthier You$9.36

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