Exercise! Wait, hold on, don’t stop reading yet.
Why? Because in double blind studies, exercise has been shown to be an effective treatment for depression. It isn’t just a way for your therapist to insure you’re not spending the day in bed. It really works.
If you’ve been to therapy for depression, your therapist has probably advised you to exercise, you’ve nodded your head in agreement and many of you have gone home and done nothing.
So, what’s the problem? Depressed people don’t want to exercise. They’re depressed! A depressed person might have trouble getting up, getting dressed, and putting one foot in front of the other. That often feels like all the exercise a depressed person can tolerate.
But it really does work, so now what?. This is what: it’s that old putting one foot in front of the other routine. Don’t think you have to join a gym or work out for an hour every day or go swimming or ride your bike five miles. Think about it this way:
1. If you have stairs, walk up and down them when you don’t have to, beginning once a day and then increasing to five times a day. After you’ve accomplished five times a day, increase your speed so within a month you’re going as fast as you can, without tripping and falling or otherwise injuring yourself.
2. Walk from your doorway to the sidewalk, beginning with once a day and increasing to five times a day and so on, just like the exercise above.
3. Get in your car, drive to the mall, and walk around the mall one time and so on, just like in exercise number 1.
4. Walk to the end of your street and back, increasing as in exercise 1.
5. Walk around your house, from room to room, being very careful not to bump into anything or trip, following the directions like exercise 1.
When depressed people hear the word, “exercise,” most often they visualize beginning a course of exercise such as spending an hour a day in the gym that they are too depressed to carry out. It isn’t necessary. What is necessary is to get your blood circulating, to breathe deeply.
If you can only manage one time a day doing the exercise of your choice, it’s better than doing nothing. You can also choose to combine any of the above exercises or think of your own version of putting “one foot in front of the other.” I won’t tell you to smile while you’re doing it (but it would be helpful).