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Exercise: The Newest Antidepressant

by Wyatt Unger, CLE Rockville

walk daily for exerciseWhile many people see counselors for depression, studies suggest that you should also be seeing a personal trainer. In 2009, The Harvard Medical School launched a review of multiple studies on the effect of exercise in those with mild to severe depression and found a strong link between physical activity and the treatment of this mental health issue. Even if someone has never had depression, having a regular exercise routine can help prevent it from ever starting. Fitness routines were not the only reason that individuals were able to overcome their depression, but studies have shown the following:

  • Exercise releases endorphins which can increase mood
  • Endorphins help the immune system which decreases the perception of pain
  • Exercise stimulates norepinephrine which can help to improve an individual’s mood
  • Physical activity and a good nights rest have a very strong correlation with one another
  • A study published in the “Archives of Internal Medicine” in 1999 showed that a 30 minute workout is equal to a prescription strength anti-depressant

A lot of us feel intimidated when starting an exercise routine.

Gyms can be intimidatingMost people have tight schedules and view exercise as just another task to add to their already busy lives. The truth is that exercise can be as simple as doing jumping jacks during the commercial break of your favorite show, or pedaling a stationary bike for a few minutes while waiting for dinner to cook. While it is recommended that adults receive 30 minutes of exercise a day, this number can be broken up and done in small increments when time permits. The physical activity doesn’t need to be strenuous either, it can be something simple. The important part is that you stay active.

Here are some other ways to get exercise during the day without adding a 30 minute trip to the gym:

  • Take the stairs
  • Park in a further spot
  • Play with your dog
  • Chase your kids around the house
  • Every hour perform five squats while at work
  • Invest in a stationary bike to use while you watch T.V. or play a video game
  • Invest in a fitness tracker
  • Take a ten minute walk during your lunch break
  • Walk to class

Once you find exercises that you enjoy it is important to stick to your routine. In order to establish a routine:

  • Try to exercise the same times everyday
  • Work out with a buddy
  • Tell people about it so that they keep you accountable
  • Make short term goals
  • Remind yourself why it is important
  • Make it a fun game
  • Make it competitive
  • Have it be a priority

Not only will this help anyone who is dealing with depression (regardless of the degree) but it will also help those without it. Exercise helps to dramatically lower our blood pressure and our stress throughout the day as well as lift our mood.

Additional Resources:

Newsletter Articles – September 2015


Sleep. Exercise. Eat well. Gratitude. Be yourself. Forgiveness. All components of a healthy and happy life.

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This has been a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the main program website.