Exercise: More Effective for Depression Than Drugs

Can happiness be found in a pill?

It’s been proven over again how exercise is just as if not many, many times more effective to help depression over medication.  I’m not denying the need for medication, although the need for exercise may be equally important. Maybe they should both be prescribed, and covered by insurance, I know it already is in the small beginnings - but we have a long ways to go before exercise is widely prescribed AND covered by insurance.  People often ask me how I have fared “in this economy”, and I have to say that I see more and more people joining gyms, and I believe it is because they simply cannot afford to be sick or stay home for any other reason.

But I digress.  Dealing with depression, it may seem insurmountable to even get out the door, let alone to a gym.  If you can get outside for a walk, that’s great! A lack of motivation is a key characteristic of depression, so being a part of a buddy system or a group is a great way to make sure you get yourself going.  If you’re taking a class, if you’re with a trainer, if you’re in a 2-6 group training class, walking group, swimming, spin,  or anything like it - great!  Take Zumba, yoga, weight lifting, TRX, SummerFit, Crossfit, whatever works for you.  If you prefer doing things at home, have a friend come to you, and you can follow videos in your home.  I bet you both will be laughing a bit as well.  You have a couple of things going on here that aids in coping with depression; exercise, laughter, and human interaction. Of course, If you prefer to be by yourself and have  a pet,  you have the option of Get PetFit with Summer and Doga amongst other wonderful options.

For the exercise to have any effect, it does need to raise your heart raise to about 60 to 70 percent of your max output, so the ideal is to be able to speak with shortness of breath, but not keeping a comfortable discussion going. You can still laugh with shortness of breath too.  This exercise is best kept at a minimum of 30 minutes. Don’t limit yourself; create different routines daily or weekly, and PLAY.  (These guidelines are given taken there are no pre-existing conditions that prevents you from this, see disclaimer.)  If you don’t already have a gym/cardio buddy, strike up conversations at the gym, and you’ll have one in no-time.  I’m sure you’re not the only one who would love to chat and giggle their way through their workout!

In general, it is beneficial to stay as active as possible during the day. You could for example use the stairs instead of the elevator (if you have many floors, then take it part of the way, and walk the rest), walk short distances rather than taking cabs/car/bus (unless late at night or in a risky area).  This is another way to keep depression at bay.  Sedentary lifestyles in themselves increases the risk of depression, and vice versa.  It makes body, mind and soul happy to move!

All of the above is not even taking into consideration the physical benefits of exercise, such as improved cardiovascular fitness, maintenance of healthy weight, and muscle tone.  Other important benefits includes reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and reduced risk of premature death.  Plus, wouldn't it be great to be the happy and active senior rather than the slow, sad and ailing one?

In some cases you may need a little of both...

Of course there are other factors in depression, brain chemicals may be “off  center”, and you may still need some medication.  Exercise still helps, you may not need as much medication, and it will help stabilize you, keep you more leveled. We like that, it feels good.  It’s good to feel good.


So pick up the dumbells, tie those laces, shake your boom boom or put the floaters on - do what makes you happy -  get out there...work it, and work out...

and stay SummerFit!