10 Ways to Fight Depression with Fitness
Depression is no joke; it's not something you can simply 'get over' or 'snap out of' and it can happen to any of us.
It can happen to those who seem to have the world at their feet, to those who are successful, outgoing and the ones who, because you've seen their Instagram, you always think are 'having the time of their life'.
For some, they have found a way to combat their depression, whether this is through their own self-help, the support of friends or resorting to medical care. But for others, they are still coming to terms with whether there is anything wrong at all, let alone solving what they don't even know is an issue yet.
For those who suffer, it's hard enough admitting there is a problem, let alone finding a way to fix it.
Exercise is very commonly used to avoid, compress or alleviate some symptoms associated with depression.
A common mistake most people seem to make is to think that working out is only to help lose weight or build muscle mass, but the benefits exercise brings to mental health are astounding.
You may be happy with your shape or you might just not like exercising but one of the most underrated reasons for exercise is the part that makes you 'feel good'; the part that helps you feel 'mentally healthy'. If you're still wondering how fitness can help you in your darkest of days, here's 10 ways fitness fights depression.
1. Be a Better Morning Person
We all love our beds, right?
Getting yourself out of your cosy pyjamas, pulling your face out of your favourite pillow and dragging your body out of the warmth and into the cold can be hard at the best of times. For those that suffer from depression, the already difficult task of getting up becomes 10 times harder.
Regular exercise and the right food choices will keep your energy levels consistent, have you feeling more awake, more alert and in turn, getting out of bed will become that little less challenging.
2. Improve Sleep Quality
When your brain is working overtime with worries, stress and negative thoughts, getting a good night's rest is almost impossible.
We all know what happens when you wake up on the 'wrong side of the bed' for just one day of the week, so you can only imagine what a constant stream of bad nights will do to you and your body.
Mental stress will wear you out for the wrong reasons, so give your body a healthy reason to be tired by keeping it moving and sleeping like a log will eventually become second nature.
3. Fight Depression
A common symptom of depression is anxiety; worrying about everything and anything means your mind is working overtime and it's exhausting.
Your poor brain is going at it 24/7, but you're also dealing with the daily tasks of, well...life. So give your mind a release, it needs to 'let go' every now and then and exercise is a great way of letting off steam.
4. Feel Energised
Depression is a mental demon that can literally suck the life out of you, making you feel tired, sluggish and a general lack of energy and motivation, no matter how much sleep you do or don't get.
Putting your body through its paces in the gym is not just about the way you feel during exercise but how about the buzz you feel after it?
Working out releases endorphins, and for those that don't know, those hormones trigger a positive feeling in the body similar to receiving a dose of morphine (minus the addiction) acting as a natural 'remedy' for fighting pain and stress.
That energetic buzz you feel after a good old sweat session may be just what you need to get you through the day.
5. Glowing Skin
Stress is an absolute nightmare for your skin and for many this only adds to their worries.
Exercise isn't all about training to be an Olympic athlete or preparing for a trek across the 7 continents but has amazing health benefits too.
Sweating like a pig flushes a lot of the toxins, dirt, and grime from your pores so add this to some healthy eating with the right food and plenty of water and this can result in healthy, spotless and grit-free skin.
A lack of confidence and self-worth is sadly a very common side effect of depression and something you simply can not 'shake off'.
Setting some goals, whether it's in the gym, a 5-mile walk or playing tennis with a friend will give you something to aim for and even look forward to...but achieving those goals means a high five for you and something you can definitely be proud of.
Making this a regular thing is a great way to build your confidence back up and can help you can feel a little more 'you' again.
7. Be Body Confident
Being super toned is great for some, but it's not the be-all and end-all and isn't for everyone.
It does, however, help when you don't feel comfortable wearing your favourite dress anymore and keeping up with a good old fashioned workout may just help you get back in it.
So no, it may not be your dream to be a bikini model, but it sure does feel good to look in the mirror and be happy, rather than avoid them.
8. Be Focused
Depression can often lead us to be left with no motivation, no drive and no concentration and life without those can be hard to bear.
It sucks at work when you struggle to get anything done, it sucks to have no desire or will to do anything and it sucks when this is the opposite of 'you'.
Physical exercise is one of the best things you can do for your brain, as one thing you're really missing is 'dopamine.'
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter commonly known as the 'motivator molecule' and those who suffer from depression tend to be deficient in it. Dopamine also enables us to have feelings of enjoyment, bliss and euphoria, so low levels of dopamine will undoubtedly leave you feeling low and bereft of motivation.
Working out increases your dopamine level so a regular dose of exercise equals a regular dose of happiness.
Dealing with depression certainly won't make you feel like the life and soul of the party, and for those who suffer severely, they will struggle to socialise at all.
The point is, we should all have a little 'me' time but too much of it can have a negative impact so get yourself out there, whether this be in your garden, your local park or braving the gym, getting out and being active will help you realise you're not alone and that being around others...isn't so bad.
One of the most common benefits we hear our clients talk about after they've experienced their 12-week UP transformation is that they've not only learnt how to perform in the gym, but their whole lifestyle outside of the gym has completely changed.
If you're usually super career-driven and successful, the last thing you want is to feel like you're doing a poor job in the office.
Allowing yourself to set goals and focus on your health and fitness also gives you motivation to focus and work harder in other aspects of your life, giving you that spark of yours back that you feel you've been missing.