11 Exercises that Help Treat Depression

By on November 13, 2018 in Treatment with 0 Comments

Deep abdominal breathing, alternate nostril breathing, brisk walk, running, jumping, dance or zumba workout, swimming, squats, tai chi, walking lunges and yoga are some of the exercises that help treat depression.

Depression is a medical condition that one is born with or that one experiences after a traumatic experience. The symptoms of depression include loss of enthusiasm, a feeling of inadequacy, low self-esteem, self-hate, changes in appetite and changes in sleep pattern.Exercise is proven to have physiological and psychological benefits for people. Exercise prevents and controls various problems like weight gain, diabetes, back ache, high blood pressure and arthritis. When one is depressed finding the motivation to exercise is difficult. However, psychologists agree that exercising releases endorphin, the feel good hormone; it improves self-confidence, takes your mind off worries, and is a healthy coping mechanism for depression.

Here are a few easy, popular and beneficial exercises to help you deal with depression.

Treating Depression with Exercise


Deep Abdominal breathing

Start slow and sit straight on the floor keep your hand on the abdomen and chest. Take deep breathes and feel your body contracting. Concentrate on the movement of your body and relax. This exercise takes control of the nervous system and keeps the stress level low. It will relieve tension and stress and boost physical and mental energy. Practice it ten minute daily to fight depression.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This technique of breathing promotes calm and balance, and unites the right and left sides of the brain. Start by positioning yourself in a comfortable meditative pose. Then hold the right thumb over your right nostril and breathe deeply through the open left nostril. After inhalation through the left nostril close it with your finger. Then slowly exhale through the right nostril. Continue this pattern. Do it daily for 10 minutes.

Brisk walk

If you enjoy being outdoors, even simple activities like taking a walk down your neighborhood park would help. A healthy level of sunlight has been proven to lift our mood.  Sunshine stimulates our serotonin which increases our brain activity levels.Just moving your body inside or outside is a way of exercising. You should choose whatever works for you, depending on your level of functionality, energy and environment.


Studies by medical professionals suggest sustained running produces endorphins which give us the euphoric feeling of success. A simple run at whatever pace you are comfortable with engages all muscles of your body. Your interaction with the environment makes you aware of your surrounding and provides a better perspective of your life and energizes your spirit.


Just bouncing to a steady rhythm or counting jumping jacks can help you fight depression. Instead of overthinking you should pay close attention to the physical sensations in your joints and muscles, even the inside of your body as it moves. Exercises that involve cross movement and that engage both arms and legs are most effective for this purpose.

Dance or Zumba workout

Contrary to the popular image of exercising, which is running in laps and sweating while lifting heavy weights, one can try fun workouts like zumba which involve music and dance. When you are depressed it is important to enjoy the workout from within. The exercise should not be another obligation but it should be an activity the person honestly enjoys. Pick your favourite tune and move your body to its rhythm. Engage your hand, feet, back, shoulders, chest and head for best results.


Swimming is the perfect workout. The buoyancy of the water supports your body. It takes the strain off your painful joints so that you can move more freely. Research shows that swimming can also improve your mental state and a daily swimming routine can help fight depression. It does so by promoting all kinds of changes in the brain, which include neural growth, reduced inflammation, and new activity routine that promote feelings of calm and well-being.


Strength training develops mastery and control. It demands complete attention and concentration. More importantly, people can see the results, the outline of the muscles forming, from dedication and training. One easy and simple way to build muscle is squats.

Stand with your feet wide apart and put your arms out straight in front of you or behind your head. Push your hips and butt back and bend at the knees. Position your chest up and back flat. Your back should remain in this neutral position during the exercise. Squat down as low as you can and then come back

Tai chi

Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art that combines movement and relaxation is good for mental and physical health. It is commonly called “meditation in motion.” Tai chi consists of a sequence of slow and graceful movements. Each movement transitions smoothly into the next. Tai chi is popular and accessible and improves balance Tai chi improves concentration, motivation, memory, and mood and will help you get over your depressive mood.

Walking lunges

For performing this exercise stand with feet apart as wide as your hips. Then take a large step forward and bend your knee at 90 degrees. Keep your knees over ankles and your shoulders over hips. Take another step and repeat until you are tired. Walking lunges improve muscle strength which helps for depression.


Eastern traditions such as yoga are very effective as an exercise for depression. They improve flexibility and involve mindfulness, which breaks up repetitive negative thoughts. It also increases strength, and makes you aware of your breathing pattern. Yoga calms you down and takes your mind off depressive thoughts.

Once you develop an exercise schedule best suited to your time and environment, stick to it.  Be comfortable and focus on the activities you enjoy. Prepare yourself for barriers and obstacles and do not feel overwhelmed and give up. Set realistic goals and reward yourself when you achieve them. Remember, exercise promotes a general sense of well-being and balance, but its benefits can fully be reaped only in the long term. Continue on your path and you will see how exercise helps in dealing with depression.




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  1. Nikhil says:

    I think the most difficult part about depression is admitting there is a problem like vineth said opening up to someone close by always helps.

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