Let’s face it, when you’re depressed you have little motivation to do anything, let alone exercise. However, it’s common knowledge that exercise can help boost mood. You may start thinking of ways to work out, but even the idea of trying new exercises or going to the gym can be daunting. Fortunately, some experts and depression sufferers have ideas for doable exercises for women who are depressed.
Diane Carbo, a registered nurse, said in an email that she began suffering from depression three years ago when a car crash left her with chronic pain and the inability to work, but exercise has helped her cope.
“The easiest thing for me to do is to walk and practice mindful meditation, or just plain positive thinking during my hour-long walk,” Carbo said. “If I can get myself out of bed, then the day flows. Exercise makes all the difference in the world, with my pain and my mood.”
She also does water exercises, like water aerobics and water running, because her pain prevents her from doing land exercises. If she gets into a cycle of not wanting to get out of bed, getting someone to work out with her can help motivate her to exercise.
Diane Renz, a licensed psychotherapist in Colorado, said in an email that both exercise and good nutrition are important for improving mood and depression.
“Movement is necessary to healing - stagnation creates illness,” Renz said. “Yoga is a great serotonin enhancer. Hatha yoga [three times] per week raises serotonin levels to the same extent as antidepressants. When ready, pursue a class where you can be supported to do this, or try a DVD.”
Jenny Skoog, a New York City based fitness expert, sent some simple workout ideas through email:
1) “Climb up and down stairs five times.”
2) “Bust out 75 jumping jacks.”
3) “Do a quick circuit of 10 pushups, 20 crunches and 30 squats.”
4) “Go for a walk around the house to breathe fresh air.”
5) “Clean one room as fast as you can.”
6) “Put the timer on for 10 minutes and see how much housework can be done in that amount of time.”
7) “Call a friend to come over for a workout.”
8) “Stretch or do 30 minutes of yoga.”
9) “Practice deep breathing techniques with 10 minutes of meditation. Use an active and positive mantra.”
Jared Meacham, the creator of an online women’s weight loss program called www.bodyfatmeltdown.com, said in an email that many useful exercises can be done at home.
“Exercises that incorporate the musculature of the core - abdominals, hips, lower back etc. - are wonderful ways to improve your mood, increase your metabolism and create a sense of well-being and strength without requiring a lot of intensity or energy output,” Meacham said. “Because so many of these exercises can be done without equipment, they are ideal for the person struggling to find the motivation to get out of the house.”
One of these exercises is called “planks.”
“Holding your body on only your forearms and toes, maintain a rigid body alignment, essentially creating a straight line from your feet to your shoulders,” Meacham said. “Holding this position for a predetermined length of time can increase strength, blood flow, muscular endurance and metabolic activity without requiring a great deal of movement.”
To get my body moving, I make sure that I have a gym at any apartment I live at so it’s right there for my use. I also park my car farther away at work so I have to walk a longer distance. In addition, I downloaded an ab workout app on my iPod Touch, which includes “planks,” so I can get a quick workout in my apartment.
What are some exercises you can manage to do while you’re depressed?
Carbo, Diane. Email interview. July 25.
Renz, Diane. Email interview. July 25.
Skoog, Jenny. Email interview. July 25.
Meacham, Jared. Email interview. July 25.
Reviewed July 28, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.