​​​​Can Exercise Help Depression?

If a sadistic person wants to make someone depressed, he might chain his victim to a wall and deprive him of exercise.

After all, even if he doesn’t understand the science behind it, he appreciates that people naturally tend to feel down and depressed when they don’t get exercise.

Fortunately, the inverse is also true. When people physically exercise, they tend to feel better and happier.

So learn from this: since a lack of physical exercise naturally makes you feel down and depressed, and since getting exercise helps you feel better and happier, be sure to get some exercise every day to become and remain depression-free.

It doesn’t even have to be that much exercise. Even just a 5 or 10 minute walk will help you feel better. The point is to just at least get some exercise every day, no matter how much it is.

What is the relationship between exercise and depression?

There is a link between a lack of exercise and depression. Fortunately, there is also a link between exercising and feeling happier and less depressed.

If you’ve been sitting around on your couch or lying in bed, thinking that you’re not getting any exercise because you’re depressed, here’s an important insight: a lack of exercise contributes to you feeling depressed.

So to get out of depression, make sure you get a little bit of exercise every day, even if it’s just a 5 minute walk.

How does exercise reduce depression?

Whenever you’ve exercised — even if it’s as simple as going out for a walk — you might have noticed that you felt better afterwards and been able to think more clearly.

Indeed, if you’ve ever taken a walk “to clear your mind”, it’s more than just a turn of phrase; walking literally helps you clear your mind and feel better, because any form of exercise:

  • Increases your blood flow and circulation of oxygen to the brain (creating a happier brain, as well as greater clarity of mind)
  • Increases production of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which is a protein that, among other things, reverses the effects of stress and depression on the brain
  • Increases production of serotonin, dopamine, and other chemicals associated with happiness and elevated moods
  • And on and on and on (there are so many benefits of exercise, and how it helps make you happier, both through direct and indirect ways, that there are too many to mention)

How long does it take for exercise to help depression?

Here’s the beauty of beating depression with exercise: just a little bit of exercise goes a very long way. You don’t have to exercise much at all to immediately feel happier and less depressed as a result.

Have you ever gone on a quick five or ten minute walk and immediately felt better and happier as a result? If so, you’ve already proven to yourself how quickly just a little bit of exercise can benefit you and make you less depressed.

The lesson: get some exercise every day (even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes!) to become happier and stop being depressed. Yes, more exercise is even better, but the point is that even a little exercise helps you become and remain depression-free faster and easier.

What is the best exercise for depression?

The best exercise to beat depression will always be any exercise that you enjoy doing.

Think about it: the more you enjoy the exercise, the happier and less depressed you already are, just by doing something that you like doing! Also, it’s much easier for you to get some exercise and benefit from it, when you already enjoy the activity.

So do you like walking? Jogging? Running? Riding your bike? Playing tennis, soccer, football, baseball, basketball, softball, or any other sports?

Take your pick. The more you enjoy the physical activity, the better.

And keep in mind that you can always make any form of exercise more enjoyable by listening to music, or making it a more fun social experience, like walking with a friend and talking about what’s going on in your lives.

Does exercise cure depression?

If you start getting some exercise every day, that’s great. After all, getting exercise is one of the 6 Depression-Free Changes that helps you get rid of depression faster and easier.

But, as always, the most important and powerful factor for eliminating depression is to replace negative thinking with positive thinking. And you will not stop being depressed until this happens.

For example, if you continue thinking negative thoughts like “My life is awful” or “I’ll never be happy”, it doesn’t matter how much exercise you get. You’ll remain depressed.

Think about it: even though exercise creates physiological changes that naturally help you feel better, healthier, happier, and stronger, it simply doesn’t matter how much seretonin, dopamine, or BDNF that you have in your system, if you continue to think negative thoughts about how terrible, meaningless, and pointless everything is.

On the other hand, if you improve your thinking and you get enough exercise every day, you’ll get rid of depression a lot faster and easier. So this is exactly what you want to do.

Next: Does Social Interaction Help Depression? →

You are here:

Section 5 Lessons:

  1. How to get rid of negative thoughts and depression
  2. How to stop ruminating & dwelling on negative thoughts
  3. Can omega 3 help with depression?
  4. How does sunlight affect depression?
  5. Can exercise help depression?
  6. Does social interaction help depression?
  7. Is sleep good for depression?

Next Section In The Depression-Free Course:

Section 6

About the author

Hi, I'm Dave Fonvielle, the founder of Always Greater. On this website I teach you step by step how to be happier and more successful achieving your goals, whether it's completing a small personal to do task, like doing the dishes, or a large business goal, like launching a new product. Get my free 3 Tiny Habits for Being Happier & More Successful training for all of this right here.