Two people in my life I love very dearly are the two of the most depressed people I know. They are also two of the most unfit people I know. Is there a connection? Yes, there is.
Most of us have been afflicted with depression at one point or another in our lives. Some people have dealt with it for most of their lives. As you know, it can be so debilitating that you don’t want to eat, you don’t want to get out of bed, you most certainly don’t feel like going for a run, or exercising at all, simply going outside can seem like a nightmare.
I regularly run with the same people I raced Ironman with a couple years ago. They are a vibrant, full of life group of people that work, spend time with their family, and work out – A LOT. Their energy is infectious. It’s awesome just being around them with lots of smiling faces, and lots of laughs, pre, during and post workout.
I listen to podcasts and articles regarding fitness and repeatedly hear stories of how people have emerged from the black hole of depression by choosing a fit life. Every one of them had different reasons for getting depressed – like losing their job, losing their family, some war vets losing limbs. All of them never thought exercise would help them. When you are depressed, you make bad choices that bring you deeper into depression – like eating the wrong foods, sleeping all the time or spending time secluded away from friends or family. All of them used exercise to cure themselves of depression, and have never looked back. They turned themselves into Spartan athletes, Ironman athletes, runners, cyclists, you name it.
Introducing a small amount of exercise in your daily routine can help bring you out of depression. Starting off slowly with 10-15 minutes per day can make a big difference. Use an alarm clock to get you up early in the morning to get this workout done before starting your day. Do it at the end of the day when you get home from work to help you sleep better. With a brisk walk, some yoga, a bike ride, or playing some soccer with friends or family. Remember to not overdo it at first, all of these workouts may seem pretty easy to most, but if you have depressed for a long time, simply walking across the parking lot at Walmart can be a huge chore.
As you exercise, your brain releases Endorphins. Endorphins boost your mood, relieve stress, moderate your appetite, enhance your immune system, among other awesome things. As you progress, your 10-15 minute workout won’t be enough to get your fix. No problem, this is natural. Your body is getting used to the stress, and you simply add some intensity, or duration to your workout.
Now you’ll be getting into more regular sleep patterns, feeling better about yourself, and making smarter choices on what foods to eat.