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  • Akshata Nayak MSACN, MS

Exercise Routine Tips To Help With Depression

Depression affects everyone differently. It is easy to recommend exercise but not always easy to follow through while having a bad day. The steps listed below are useful once you have already reached out for advice from a healthcare professional. Remember, it is possible to have bad days even after following all recommendations, so have a routine in place for when that happens.

Exercise works best if you follow a daily, consistent routine. It is not going to change anything if you introduce it in the middle of an already bad day. Set up a time where you follow a workout schedule every day. Motivation can be a huge problem if you aren’t feeling very well, so it is a good idea to connect a new habit to an already existing one. For example: keep an article of your workout clothing near your toothbrush. This way, when you brush your teeth in the morning, you know your next step is to get dressed to exercise.

If you are too depressed, then it is better to find ways to help yourself out of the feeling first. Reach out to a therapist to talk about what is going on. Is there a friend or family member who knows what happens and how to help in such situations? Are there activities, mental or physical, that support your recovery? If a change in focus will not comfort you, what treatment options do you have in place to support yourself?

Break up a routine into smaller steps and see how many you can complete. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just get up and move around. Don’t want to change your clothes to exercise - can you do it in what you already have on? Are you motivated when you participate in group classes at a gym? If you cannot imagine doing a full routine, can you get through just a few jumping jacks at home? Once you have managed those, can you add on some more or a different exercise? If you absolutely do not want to exercise, can you get up and walk around the house? Maybe put the dishes away, heat food or collect your mail. This achieves two things – the movement usually helps the regular routine kick in and it also breaks the cycle of depression where you feel worse for not doing something simple to help yourself.

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