DISCLAIMER:  I am not a doctor, therapist, or anything of the sort.  For all medical, fitness or therapeutic information/advice/plan, seek professional help.

For most people who suffer from The Big D, aka Depression, exercise is either the last thing on their list, or first thing on their list, but rarely gets checked off.

Research articles, by the dozens, have discussed the BENEFITS OF EXERCISE for those who suffer from mental illness such as depression.


When you exercise, endorphins are released.  Endorphins trigger positive feelings, and are a stress reducer brain chemical. There are also other brain power chemicals that are released to aid in fighting stress and anxiety. EXERCISE IS CRUCIAL … for your well-being, your health, and to get your imbalanced self balanced!


1. Walk

Take a pet for a walk.  Not only will the benefits of exercise help you but also getting out where the sun is shining (which means getting a good dose of Vitamin D) and focusing on your pet that you care for.

Meet a friend for a walk.  Your friend can help you stay accountable too, and help you even in times of depression.  Having a friend that you can count on is key when it comes to depression.

2. Aerobic 

DVDs  There are many cardio/aerobic videos to choose from, so find one that works for you! My favorite are the Biggest Loser DVDs – I especially love the Cardio Max one.

Join a class.  Look for free classes around your neighborhood.  My neighborhood hosts a class M-F and there are 5 ladies who volunteer to teach 1-2 days each week.  M/W is either Kickboxing or general aerobics, T/TH is Zumba, F is Step class.

3. Swim

Where I live, swimming costs money.  That’s not as big of a deal when I’m well, because I can reason.  I spend the money to keep me on my plan, balanced, healthy, endorphin happy.  So that’s when I make a reasonable purchase.  Of course, I buy a plan that I can afford and if possible to cover the times I know I need to help me in the future.  So if winter is coming, I buy my pass in the summer to last me through winter.  But for me, I need a friend to get me through the winter, so I find someone ahead of time for that too.

I have searched the internet over and over.  What I found is that SwimOutlet.com has awesome products with unbeatable prices!  Nothing beats them.  We get everything there.  I don’t even bother looking anywhere else anymore.  And if I do, I always end up returning there! Ha.

4. Run

I love to run.  I was not a runner until about 2010.  My daughter joined a running club at school and they were preparing for a 5k.  I thought I’d try and do it with her.  At first, I thought, “what did I get myself into?”  But I kept with it and I got stronger and stronger.  Where I live now, my treadmill helps me through the winter and my down times (just to get me moving – run or walk).  (I bought my treadmill off of Craigslist – You can also look on Amazon for treadmills). Regardless if I run on pavement or treadmill, seeing what I ran helps me feel accomplished.  Use a pedometer or a tracking device like the FitBit is a great tool. But these are just tools… with or without tools, GET OUT AND GET EXERCISE!

5. Gardening

Vitamin D, moving, shedding calories, and beautifying your landscape are all the wonderful benefits from gardening.  “Creating” helps depression!

6. Bike

Biking has many benefits.  If you have a bike, use it. Get out, get some Vitamin D, get the exercise you need, your heart pumping, fresh air, and take in the nature all around you. You will be grateful you did!  If you need some “equipment” to go with your bike, check out SwimOutlet.com (yeah, weird.. but I know they sell quality products – even for biking) or Amazon.

You might also want to consider a stationary bike.  If you are on light therapy, put your box next to your bike or treadmill and reap the benefits for both exercise and light at the same time, all year round!

7. Dance/Zumba

I was “for sure” that I was not a Zumba fan … until I joined our little neighborhood exercise classes.  Zumba was a regular Tuesday and Thursday class offered there.  Holy moley!  I LOVE ZUMBA!!!  It just gets you moving,  you feel free, and it is FUN!  Find a class or buy some DVDs and Zumba at home!  It’s one of my very favorite things to do!

8. Yoga

Yoga is really awesome.  I am not a regular Yoga gal but when I am really down, that is sometimes all I can do.  I need that inner breathing and taking my time to take care of me.  After I feel a little more settled and I can keep going.  It was worth a try for me.  Maybe you too?  I bought all my yoga DVDs and supplies from Amazon.  Your community might offer yoga classes.  Something to consider for sure!!!

9. Lift Weights

I feel strong when I lift weights.  I feel empowered.  Options for weights – use canned food at home, use a filled backpack, check out thrift stores for weights, specialty exercise stores, or find them on Amazon.  Our family used what we had while we saved up and bought the adjustable unit, so we didn’t have tons of weights laying around.  The adjustable units that we like are the PowerBlock Dumbbells and Kettle blocks.  Do you have to have those?  No. Use a can of refried beans or anything in your cupboard.  Perfectly acceptable and effective!!!!

10. Bounce – Mini (Fitness) Trampoline

Jump, jump, jump.  What a great exercise!  You can jump, bounce, walk in place, dance.  Mini trampolines are so versatile!

11. Jumprope

Jump roping makes me smile. Sometimes a smile is what I need.  I feel like a kid again – while getting the exercise I need.  It gets my heart pumping which is so important when it comes to depression!  My kids love it too… so they are my little motivators.

12. Kickboxing

Oh yeah!  One of my favorite.  I love it especially cuz I HATE the periods of depression that I have to go through.  So for me this is ALWAYS a good thing – I PUNCH and KICK and then just focus on the moves.  I get out of my head.  I feel strong.  I feel I can kick this disease to the curb.  Does it cure me after my session?  No, but it helps!!!!  There are kickboxing DVDs and kickboxing equipment like bags (hanging or free-standing).  I own the Everlast Cardio Strike Bag Kit (DVD, gloves and bag) and I L-O-V-E it!  Kickboxing is not a one time a month thing tho.  Your muscles will be sore when you first start, so continue to build your strength by doing this regularly.  That’s the last thing you want – is to do it while you have an episode of depression and then can’t or don’t want to get up for the days following… build yourself up!
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