Don’t Let Depression Keep You From Exercising

Exercise and depression

Don’t Let Depression Keep You From Exercising

A new study shows that exercise and physical activity may be just as crucial to a clinically depressed person’s good health as finding an effective antidepressant.

Exercise and depression

Maintain high fitness levels.

A recent study of nearly 18,000 participants found that those at middle age with a high fitness level were significantly less likely to die from heart disease later in life, even if they were diagnosed with depression. The research underscores the multiple ways in which depression may ultimately impact our health.

For the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, researchers compared the participant’s fitness level at midlife to rates of depression and heart disease in older age. The participants with a high fitness level were 56% less likely to die from heart disease following a depression diagnosis.

The reasons behind this may partly be connected to the general health effects of physical activity, including the fact that exercise decreases inflammation that may cause depression. By reducing inflammation, the risk for depression and heart disease are lowered.

Exercise and depression

Stay active in sports.

The findings are just as relevant to younger age groups, in particular college-age adults who are just entering the workforce. This is the age when we typically see physical activity drop off because they’re no longer involved in school activities or sports. The earlier you maintain a fitness regimen, the better chance of preventing depression, which in the long run will help lower the risk of heart disease.

Also, there is value to not starting antidepressant medication if it’s not needed. Being active and getting psychotherapy are sometimes the best prescription, especially in younger patients who don’t have severe depression.

Depression has been linked to several other chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and chronic kidney disease, which studies show can affect whether antidepressants are likely to help. For patients with these conditions, the more appropriate treatment may be exercise.

These new insights demonstrate the ongoing importance of fitness throughout the lifespan. Now we know that the long-term benefits and the connection between mind-body wellness are more significant than we thought.

It also highlights the importance of overcoming a common dilemma among patients–how does one cope with hopelessness and still find the motivation to exercise?

How to Stay Fit While Treating Depression

Research shows that those who are clinically depressed can often perform about three-fourths of the exercise they’re asked to do. There are a few steps you can take to boost the chances of success:

  1. Set aside a consistent time to exercise every day, but do not get discouraged by stretches of inactivity. Resume activities as soon as possible.
  2. Keep a log to track progress.
  3. Vary the exercises to avoid monotony. Keep the workout interesting and fun.
  4. Exercise with a friend.
  5. Ask someone to hold you accountable for maintaining the exercise regimen.


Authored by:  Kiara Moore

Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center. (2018, June 27). Don’t let depression keep you from exercising. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 18, 2018 from