Being told to do more exercise by your mental health professional can be almost as bad as someone telling you to “snap out of it” or to “cheer up” but it doesn’t change the fact that being more active can help.
But here’s the thing, who said anything about exercise being hard work or something that takes all your energy. That kind of effort is simply asking too much for many but especially so for those suffering with depression.
It’s better to forget about the word exercise and instead think of just being more active. This could be going for a 10 minute walk, dusting off the old push bike for a 15 minute ride or ditching the car and walking to the corner shop. You see the key is starting small and building a habit. It can be hard work trying to find the motivation after a long day to go and do anything strenuous but having a walk at lunch may make all the difference.
It is is said that to remain healthy, adults should do 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity every week. Unfortunately looking at that number may seem insurmountable to start with, so forget it. If you’re not doing anything active now then anything is going to be better and it will make a difference.
Make targets that require only small steps.
Any change in lifestyle, no matter how small is all about making habits. The habit of going for a walk at lunchtime or to the gym on a Saturday morning but if you don’t make it a habit then you have a higher change of not keeping up the effort.
This is why you need to set yourself small steps only. This means you will meet your targets which will help your motivation but more importantly, you’ll keep going and that’s when you’ll see the greater reward.
How to get started with exercise
Choose something that is simple, easy and you think you will enjoy. So long as it safely raises your heartbeat then it will be doing you some good and you’ll be laying the foundations for a happier healthier lifestyle.
Things you could consider;
Listen to an audiobook whilst you go for a walk (be safe and stay aware) as this may make it more enjoyable. Cycle or walk to work provided it’s not too far and you don’t even have to do it every day, just two ir three times a week is a great start. Perhaps going for a swim after work, this could be just as relaxing as it is exercising.
Check out your local amenities, there are village halls and community buildings in most areas that allow badminton, tennis or other activities and may even have local classes and/or clubs that take your interest.
The important thing is to find something you enjoy and can do on a regular basis. If you work ten miles away you’re not likely to be able to keep up a walk to work routine so maybe you could walk at lunchtime instead.
If you feel worn out by the time you get home, try not going directly home once or twice a week. Instead you could stop at the park for a walk or jog or go to the gym for half an hour and at least that way you don’t have to find the motivation to leave home again when all you want to do is curl up and relax.
It is also helpful to encourage a friend that also wants to be more active or is willing to support you. Having a friend to work out with increases motivation and the overall likelihood that you’ll develop the habit of being more active.
Exercise on prescription
If you haven’t exercised for a long time or are concerned about the effects an increase in activity can have for you then you should always seek the advice of your doctor. There is always the possibility that you may even be offered exercise on prescription. Lots of surgeries across the country prescribe exercise as a treatment for a range of conditions, including depression. Depending on your circumstances and what’s available locally, the exercise programme offered may even be free or at a reduced cost.
Other help for depression
Remember there are many treatments available for depression including self-help, medication and counselling. Any of these can help to increase and maintain your motivation to keep up with an increase in activity and of course will also help reduce your symptoms of depression. It is also important to remember that if you haven’t already seen a doctor about your depression then you should see them to discuss your symptoms as soon as possible.
Fenland Counselling does not provide medical diagnosis or treatment. The information above, is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical or health advice, examination, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health professional before starting any new treatment, making any changes to existing treatment, or altering in any way your current treatment, exercise or diet regimen. Do not delay seeking, or disregard medical advice based on information on this site. Medical information changes rapidly and while Fenland Counselling makes efforts to update the content on the site, some information may be out of date.y be out of date.