Using Physical Fitness To Combat Stress And Depression 

By Ange Fonce

Exercise certainly is not a depression cure all yet many scientific studies have found that heart pumping endorphin boosting workouts actually help you to feel more happy about yourself... research say that more physically active people reported greater general feelings of excitement and enthusiasm when compared to less active people. 

And beyond its protective effect against feelings of depression... exercise does help reduce stress and help you secure a better nights sleep... that is why making a fitness routine an excellent addition to your depression treatment plan.

Exercise stimulates the release of many of the brain chemicals thought to be in low supply when someone is battling depression... so a trip to the gym can be just what the coach ordered... so what kind of workouts work best?

Set Off That Runner High

When it comes to workouts that fight depression... aerobic and cardio exercises have the edge... to date the strongest evidence seems to support aerobic exercise.

While the correct "dose" of depression fighting exercise is up for debate... some experts recommend 20 to 30 minutes most days of the week... a recent review of numerous scientific studies found no association between the intensity level of the exercise and its emotional benefit... so simply moving more is a great start.

Ever heard of runners high? 

The most tangible example of exercise stimulating certain brain chemicals is the runners high that many athletes report experiencing once crossing a certain threshold of exertion while running... that euphoria is due to the release of endorphins in the brain in response to the sustained physical activity. 

Endorphins are our bodies natural morphine and when released by special glands in our brains... they can produce a sense of well being or joy and also decrease pain levels.

Build Your Muscles

Boost your strength... boost your happiness? 

Scientific studies of stroke survivors with depression found that a 10 week strength training program helped reduced symptoms of depression... among numerous other benefits strength training is about mastery and control that requires full attention and concentration... more importantly you can see the results the outline of the muscles forming from dedication and training.

Just be sure to start slowly and use the assistance of a personal trainer if needed.


Reading up on a study of 65 women with depression and anxiety...  34 women who took a yoga class twice a week for two months showed a significant decrease in depression and anxiety symptoms... compared to the 31 women who were not in the class.

Eastern traditions such as yoga have a wonderful antidepressant effect in that they improve flexibility and involve mindfulness which breaks up repetitive negative thoughts... increase strength and make you aware of your breathing... improve balance and contain a meditative component.

I practice yoga myself as part of my own fitness regime... I suggest starting with a yoga class in your area so you can be sure that you are doing the movements and poses properly.

Not only that... it will get  you out and meeting other people instead of stuck at home with depressive thoughts running around in your head.

Tai Chi

Like yoga the slow and gentle movements of tai chi are another Eastern tradition that might help you break free from depression or major depressive disorder. 

In a study of 14 older Chinese patients with depression... those who took tai chi over a three month period showed a significant improvement in their depression symptoms. 

The researchers theorized that the social aspects of tai chi which is done in group settings may have also played a role in its effectiveness.

Get Your Walking Shoes On

Simply putting one foot in front of the other may be the trick to feeling better... that is because walking is an aerobic exercise that is suited for almost everyone... all it takes is a pair of comfortable supportive shoes and you are ready to go... I always recommend it is better to be something then doing nothing at all especially when it comes to physical activity.

If depression has made you sedentary... start off slowly and gradually increase time and distance and like all those I have suggested above... it gets you out and about and talking of getting out and about.

Go Play Outside

If you enjoy being outdoors even simple activities such as gardening throwing a ball around with your kids or washing your car may do you some good. 

That is because a healthy dose of sunlight has been shown to boost mood... likely due to the fact that sunshine stimulates our serotonin levels... drops in serotonin during the darker colder months have been linked to seasonal affective disorder or SAD.

Just moving your body inside or out is exercise... choose whatever works for you depending on your functioning level... energy and preferences.


Want something super simple to break you out of a funk... be bouncy.

You do not need to jump... just bend your knees and bounce as quickly as you can for a few minutes... this is an easy way to oxygenate your brain and get some endorphins flowing and it is not as silly as it seems it is part of my warm up routine to BOUNCE it gets the heart pumping and the blood flowing.

If you have an exercise program already keep up the good work... if not here are tips to get you started.

Simple Workouts

5 X 30 minute sessions

Jog... walk... bike... or dance three to five times a week for 30 minutes.

Set small daily goals and aim for daily consistency rather than perfect workouts... it is better to walk every day for 15... 20 minutes than to wait until the weekend for a three hour fitness marathon. 

Lots of scientific data suggests that frequency is most important... find forms of exercise that are fun or enjoyable.

Extroverted people often like classes and group activities... people who are more introverted often prefer solo pursuits.

Distract yourself with an iPod or other portable media player to download audio books... pod casts or music... many people find it is more fun to exercise while listening to something they enjoy.

Recruit an exercise buddy as it is often easier to stick to your exercise routine when you have to stay committed to a friend... partner or colleague.

Be patient when you start a new exercise program... most sedentary people require about four to eight weeks to feel coordinated and sufficiently in shape so that exercise feels easier.

Steps To Actually Feeling Happier 

Be ready for change...

It is perfectly OK to have moments or days of feeling down... rather than good when you resist the feelings that we categorize as unpleasant... it simply causes more resistance leading to greater unhappiness.... let us debunk the happiness myth these steps might just help you develop a healthy and dare I say happy life balance.

Ups and downs are part of the rhythm of life and if you find yourself in what feels like a constant state of unhappiness it is important to listen to what your body and mind are telling you life has a funny way of tapping us on the shoulder when we need to create change

If you do not pay attention to the gentle tapping you may be surprised by a less gentle reminder or series of them... either way your subconscious mind will get your attention to suggest or force change... so pay attention to the gentle tap. 

What is the cause of your unhappiness? 

Find someone who can help you sort through it and embrace the change that lies ahead... you are on your way and if you would like advice and coaching.

Please do Contact me.

As ever... always take care of your Mental Health and Physical Fitness

You do have the power!

Have you any thoughts or comments you would like to share with me on what I have written?

I would love to hear from you.

Thank you and may you enjoy a Loving... Prosperous and Dynamic day!

Yours Sincerely

 Ange Fonce

1... A person with a penchant for Science... creativity... books... writing... communication... fitness... women... sexing... sexuality... human relationships... psychology... physiology and any other area involving heavy use of the Intellect.

2... A bright person and glamorously Intelligent!

3... Ange is an Author... Speaker and Dynamic Peak Performance Personal Development Coach... Psychosexual Therapist who works with those men and women who desire to personally develop themselves and their relationships to become creators of their own life... relationships and wealth! 

4... As ever always leave a man or a woman all the better for knowing you. 

To Speak to Ange and arrange a consultation for what you would like help with CLICK HERE

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