Of course, exercise isn’t the be-all and end-all of breaking out of your depressive episode, such as when you have depression or bipolar disorder. But studies have shown that physical exercise contributes to better mental wellness since it stimulates the release of feel-good chemicals in the brain.
Start on the Right Foot
But don’t just plunge into physical exercises right away! You have to make careful decisions, especially when it comes to sustaining the gains made during your exercise program’s early phase (i.e., slacking off).
- Consult with your doctor first, especially when you have an underlying medical condition or you have sustained past injuries. Certain exercises may not be suitable in your case.
- Choose the types of exercises that you will actually enjoy. You will then be less likely to stop exercising simply because you’re looking forward to it.
- Hire a personal trainer or become a member of a gym, such as 24 Hour Fitness. You will find that being in the company of others will make you feel less alone. You can also benefit from the professional guidance from a personal trainer, particularly in terms of motivation.
You’re also well-advised to take it slowly. You don’t have to plunge into a full-blown, one-hour, five-times-a-week exercise program since burnout is right behind it. Your best bet is to take it one day at a time, as you probably do with your depressive episodes.
Start Breaking Sweat
You can start with 30 minutes of brisk walking or running on a treadmill. Studies have shown, too, that cardio and aerobic exercises are the best choices for fighting depression. You don’t have to push yourself too hard since even the simple act of getting out of bed, changing into gym clothes, and running for 20-30 minutes is already commendable.
After your 30-minute treadmill run, you will start feeling the so-called runner’s high, a feeling of euphoria caused by the release of endorphins into your body. You will also feel the sense of euphoria after a class of Zumba or spin cycling or barre work. Your mind and body will soon start craving for the euphoric feeling so you may discover that your depressive episodes become more manageable.
But it isn’t just cardio exercises that can lift your mood. You should also look into strength training using your bodyweight as well as fixed and free weights. You will find that strength training isn’t just about lifting weights –it’s also about engaging your entire mind and body into each lift.
Even as you follow your personalized exercise program, you should still continue seeing your doctor, therapist and support groups. You will be better with a wholistic program than just focusing on one aspect of treatment.