Because mood boosting endorphins are naturally released whenever you physically exert yourself, from time to time readers ask me if there are any exercises which help cure depression better than others.
My first reply is always something to the effect that depression can result in lack of exercise just as often as lack of exercise can result in depression.
If you have become so depressed that absolutely nothing motivates you, then drugs or even more intensive treatments may be necessary to get you to the point where you could even consider exercise. Talk to your family doctor.
That being said, the natural effect which exercise has on improving your mood does not really depend on which exercises you perform. You simply have to be involved in a physical state of stress or exertion which 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.
No Equipment Needed
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, like yoga, Pilates, stretching, jogging, or dancing, take away 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 can actually help immediately relieve symptoms of depression?
Get Some Sun
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.
Get Up, Stand Up
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 co-worker’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 which are naturally released when you exercise. If there is any way you can get outside in the sunlight for even just a few minutes, all the better.
After you get your depression lifted a bit, have a look at my recommended training program for ongoing fitness. Also, have a look at my nutrition resources page for information on getting your body and mind the best food.