An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but walking 30 minutes a day can keep the blues away. Research shows that daily, moderate exercise can not only prevent depression but is also effective in treating depression.
Since one in four women in their 40s and 50s take an antidepressant, this is powerful information. If you happen to be that one out of four women then you know that depression can throw you into survival mode and the idea of exercising can feel utterly overwhelming. But that’s when you need it the most.
Chasing the blues away
However, physical activity is exactly what you need when you’re dealing with the blues. It might sound like the least appealing thing, but moderate exercise boosts self-esteem, elevates the mood, improves sleep patterns, sharpens the memory, and decreases anxiety, to name a few benefits. Many of us may know this intellectually, but still find ourselves stuck in a rut of inactivity.
Five ways to rejuvenate your fitness mojo when the blues strike
- Cut it in half – or a quarter. Don’t expect to jump in at the same duration and frequency just because that was your normal routine before you stopped exercising. Instead cut that in half or even quarter it – make it doable and build on that success.
- Buddy up. If you know you are the type of person that needs accountability then find a friend who can join you on daily walks, or meet you at the gym for a group fitness class. Buy pedometer to keep track of how many steps you are walking each day and use this to create incremental goals. Or, hire a health coach or personal trainer who can help you to create a realistic action plan to get you back on track – healthfully.
- Don’t work against yourself. If you dread the activity you won’t do it. Period. So find an activity you enjoy and that feels good and leaves you feeling energized and uplifted afterwards. Masha Proshutina, our group fitness guru, teaches a class on how to find your individual fitness style. Think about your own fitness style. Do you like solitary or group exercise? Do you prefer to be outside or indoors? Work with your activity preferences – not against them – to increase the likelihood of sticking to your routine.
- Plan and prepare. Be prepared. Pack a gym bag with exercise clothes, walking shoes, Ipod, and whatever else you need to ensure you have what is needed to exercise the next day. Need extra motivation? Download TED talks to listen to while on the treadmill, or walk outside while talking on the phone, and/or take the time to stretch and do your core exercises while watching television. Incorporating exercise into typically sedentary activities adds up.
- Don’t leave it to chance. – That is probably what contributed to the inactivity rut in the first place. Make this “appointment” a top priority, so non-negotiable. You deserve it and your body and mind will love you for it.
The good news is, is that spring is right around the corner (thank goodness), and the winter blues will soon dissipate for many. But don’t wait until then to start or resume activity. If you need more motivation, check out this video on the benefits of walking 30 minutes a day.