Exercise and physical exertion should be a part of your daily regimen if you want to maintain your mental health. There is no other (virtually) free treatment that works this well for treating depression, and the best part is, everyone has access to it. Therapy and antidepressants may be necessary in some cases, but exercise can supplement treatment to help increase stimulation to neurotransmitters, which has been shown to improve one’s mood. “Animal studies have found that exercise increases levels of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which have been associated with elevated mood, and it is thought that antidepressant medications also work by boosting these chemicals.”
So if you’re like me and more often than not you shirk the physical activity in favor of a nice burrito and “Parks and Recreation” reruns, then you may be wondering where to start. Well, run. Some halfway decent running shoes are a very small investment that can yield great benefits. Get your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes each day and you could find yourself sleeping and feeling better. Life may be hectic and the demands of work, family and running a household may keep you from joining the or sticking to a workout program, but finding 30 minutes in your day to exercise and take care of your mental health is invaluable. Here are some tips that could make finding those 30 minutes easier. Bring your lunch to eat at your desk during the work week so you can spend your lunch break taking a jog or brisk walk rather than going on a hunt for lunch. Better yet, wake up 30 minutes early and start your day with push-ups, sit ups and burpees. Note: if you haven’t done a burpee (aka squat thrust) since Junior High P.E., try to do 100 of them in a row, I dare you. Your body will quickly tell you why no other one exercise on the planet will singlehandedly make every part of your body burn. So, I implore you my Sultans of the Sofa, my Queens of Quiescence, get out there and do something physical and you will be on your way to a happier you.
If you are exhibiting signs of depression, need to speak to someone, or are in crisis and need immediate help, please call the Access & Crisis Line at 800-479-3339. Trained and experienced counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help. You don’t have to suffer in silence, make the FREE call. If emergency medical care is needed, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. For more information, visit www.up2sd.org.
Sources: John Briley. “Feel Good After a Workout? Well, Good for You.” The Washington Post, Tuesday, April 25, 2006.