Mental health disorders continue to present a global health challenge and contribute significantly to the global burden of human disease. Depression is a common mental illness that affects people in so many ways. It is a real illness that deprives people of their normal functioning and interferes with their daily life. Living with depression also affects your relationship with your family, friends, and colleagues. Read on to see more about 5 habits that will optimize long term health.

What is Depression?

Depression is not the same as feeling sad or down. Sadness is an emotion which everyone feels at one time or another. However, sadness is only a small part of depression. Some people with depression may not display any feelings of sadness at all. Depression has many other symptoms, including physical ones. If you are experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms, for more than two weeks, you may be suffering from depression

  • The loss of interest or satisfaction in hobbies and social activities
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism or fixating on past negative experiences.
  • Feelings of worthlessness, helplessness or excessive and inappropriate guilt
  • Increase or decrease in appetite.
  • Significant weight gain or loss without dieting.
  • Cognitive difficulties, such as diminished ability to think, concentrate and make meaningful decisions
  • Having recurrent thoughts of death and suicidal ideation with or without specific plans for committing suicide.
  • Observable psychomotor problems, including restless body movement and slow
  • Sleeping disorders, including sleeping too much or not enough

The relationship between exercise and overall psychological health is very established in both healthy populations and also in populations with chronic conditions, and active lifestyles are generally encouraged in all health groups where physical activity can be safely done. In many medical kinds of literature, depression has been associated with low levels of physical activity.

Regular exercise is often a neglected strategy in the management of depression. It can be a quick and effective way to relieve some forms of depression Numerous scientific studies have shown that people who exercise regularly experience fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety than those who do not exercise regularly. Clinical trials have also proven that regular exercise of moderate intensity can be an effective adjunctive treatment by itself for both melancholic and non-melancholic depression.

how regular exercise may improve symptoms of depression

How Regular Exercise May Improve Symptoms of Depression

  • Lifting mood, emotional well being and increasing energy levels
  • Increasing a sense of self-confidence, control, and self-esteem.
  • Improving sleep.
  • Providing social support and reducing loneliness if exercise is done with other people

In addition to being helpful in improving symptoms of depression, regular exercise has numerous physical health benefits. These benefits include prevention of numerous medical conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, strokes and certain types of cancers.

Exercise Guideline for Adults and Older with Depression

A minimum of thirty minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most, preferably all, days of the week; An example of ‘moderate intensity’ exercise is brisk walking where an appreciable increase in respiratory rate and heart rate is noticeable. Exercising for a minimum of 10 minutes at a time, the 30 minutes total does not need to be continuous. Short intervals of different physical activities can be combined to make up a total of 30 minutes of exercise or more each day

Exercise recommendations for inactive adults with Depression

These three physical activities should be included in your exercises on a daily basis.

Aerobic activity: Chose any activity that you enjoy and you are comfortable with, such as cycling, jumping rope, gardening, hiking, or group fitness class. One way to meet the recommendations is to do at least 30 minutes per day, splitting each session to a minimum of 10 minutes. Start with short sessions, increasing the duration as your body becomes acclimatized. Try to progress gradually over time to a relatively moderate-intensity activity. If you aim to do 30 minutes per day, then do this at least 5 times per week so that you can reach a total of 150 mins a week. Divide each session over the week and aim to have no more than two consecutive periods without physical activity.

Weightlifting: Once you are comfortable with your aerobic fitness, consider adding weight lifting to your exercise. Strong and large muscles burn more calories for energy so it can help you maintain your body fat. A toned muscle also gives you a better shape and improve your outward appearance. When training a muscle group such as legs, chest, shoulders or arms, start with a warm up with little or no load. If you are using a dumbbell as a weight, start with at least one set of 8-12 repetitions per routine.

Flexibility exercises: The essence of flexibility exercises is to prevent stiffness, pain, and muscles and joints injuries. Quick and simple movements from activities such as Yoga, Chi, Tai, and Pilates can be incorporated into your routines. They improve your overall strength, flexibility, and balance.

Group exercises are also recommended especially for women, adolescents, people under stressful conditions and chronically ill people. It seems that opportunities available through the group exercises such as connectedness, sharing experiences, social skills training and motivating and encouraging atmosphere can help to decrease depressive symptoms.

Despite the effectiveness of exercise in alleviating symptoms of depression, doctors may be somewhat hesitant to recommend exercise as a first line of treatment to depressed patients since they may lack the motivation to exercise. Other forms of treatment for depression include antidepressant medications (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, behavioral therapy, family therapy) and alternative medicine such as acupuncture and herbal medicines.



Avijeet Chopra, I. (2015). Depression and Aging? A Public Health Concern. Journal Of Depression And Anxietys1. doi: 10.4172/2167-1044.s1-e001

Das, S. (2016). Depression: Meeting the Future Global Health Challenge. Journal Of Depression And Anxiety5(s1). doi: 10.4172/2167-1044.s1-023

Raphael, R. (1998). Physical activity can relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve mood, and may even reduce the risk of developing depression. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal2(Supplement), 18???20. doi: 10.1249/00135124-199803001-00007

Wittchen, H. (1995). Comorbidity of mood disorders—diagnosis and treatment. Depression3(3), 131-133. doi: 10.1002/depr.3050030307