Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on March 27, 2008
This is going to sound really harsh, but if you’re depressed – take a hike. Or a ten-minute walk. Or a swim. Or a dance class. Anything that gets your body moving.
For the millions of Americans who experience debilitating depression, feelings of extreme lethargy often compound the psychological effects. But studies are showing that moving the circulation through some form of physical activity – however brief – may not only have immediate positive effects, but lasting ones.
While the specific reasons for this are not known, one thought is that exercise helps produce serotonin (which plays an active role in regulating one’s moods). Another thought is that exercise provides a feeling of accomplishment, which can boost self-esteem and help battle those feelings of helplessness that often accompany depression.
Some have likened depression to being trapped in a deep, cavernous hole. While climbing out of the hole may seem impossible, taking an active role in one’s recovery through baby steps (or climbs) can make a big difference. Which means, even a three-minute walk down the street can be beneficial in boosting energy in the severely depressed. For some, it may trigger the desire to walk further. For others, it may at least trigger the feeling that they’re taking control of their situation. Which may give them the energy or the self-confidence to continue.
And while heavy aerobic exercise – from an intense swim, jog or bike ride – may induce feelings of tiredness upon completion, it’s believed that it also helps one to bounce back after an hour or so and provide a more sustained increase in energy thereafter.
There are many suggested ways to battle depression. And you need to find a healthy way that works for you. But giving your body much needed circulation might just be the thing you need to begin your climb out of that hole. Plus, there are additional benefits to exercise – better health, better physique, better sleep.
What can you do to help a depressed loved one? Invite them to accompany you on a brief physical excursion. They might appreciate the thought, and their body may appreciate the activity.