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Move Your Body! Move Your Mood!

I really should go to the gym, but I have no energy. I'm too tired.

That statement is all too common when someone is struggling with depression. Feeling tired and having little motivation can be symptoms of depression making exercise something that quickly gets forgotten or ignored. Yet, exercise is one thing that can help someone feel better. What a vicious circle!

Research indicates regular exercise may increase levels of serotonin -- a chemical in the brain that helps regulate mood, sleep, libido and appetite. Several recent studies indicate that people who exercise regularly have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety than those who don't exercise regularly.

Exercise benefits us by:

  • Increasing energy levels
  • Improving sleep
  • Providing an effective release for stress
  • Providing social opportunities (especially if we can find an exercise "buddy")
  • Trying a "non-medication" approach to help mind, body and spirit
  • Providing a hormonal release of endorphins to help us feel "good"

Here are some great ways to get moving:

  • Go slow. Try walking for 10 - 20 minutes a couple of times a week to gauge how you feel. From there, slowly increase your distance or time based on how you feel and what you can fit in your schedule.
  • Try different types of exercise you really enjoy. If you find an activity you enjoy, you are much more likely to do it.
  • If you miss a day or two, keep going. Each day is a new day.
  • It may take time for benefits to occur. Be patient and trust the process.
  • Find an exercise "buddy". It may be helpful to have a friend join you. This is a great way to have some social connection and exercise all at the same time.
  • Be creative in your efforts. If it's raining, do a few laps around the mall instead. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park further away from the grocery store entrance so you get a chance to take a few more steps. All of these minor adjustments can help keep you moving and stay active.

While exercise is definitely not a depression cure-all, it may have a positive and powerful effect in easing some symptoms of depression.

It is recommended you seek medical advice from your physician before starting an exercise plan.


Submitted by Deirdre Mayzes, a PCN Counsellor at Primacy Medical Clinic (Dr. Filanti) in Medicine Hat, AB.

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