The Exercise Depression Anxiety Link
The Scientific American reports up to 1 in 10, yes 10% of adult americans suffer from depression. They also note that adults who averaged 150 minutes of moderate exercise – or 200 minutes of walking every week had more energy, socialized more, felt better emotionally, and weren’t as limited by their depression.
Simply put, if you suffer from depression or anxiety – Don’t go to the doctor, go to the gym and get fit!
5 Steps to Beating Depression with Fitness
Exercise is the most under-used anti depressant.
To this day, I believe exercise and a healthy diet saved my life. (I used to have thoughts of taking my own life. So yes, I CAN honestly say it saved me. )
I suffered from anxiety and depression from a very young age.
I struggled all throughout my high school years, and before I had finished school, I lost someone very close to me, which took my depression to a whole other level.
It was a very scary time as I was unstable and constantly wanting to hurt myself. I struggled for years until I sought help, spoke to a doctor and finally found Health & Fitness.
I can honestly say exercise changed my life. Once I added Fitness & Exercise into my life, everything slowly started changing.
My body and my mind were the first two things to transform. It was like I had been given a second chance.
My outlook on the world, the people around me, and my physical body changed completely.
I was positive about life; I had positive thoughts about myself and the relationships with family and friends.
The road to my recovery
Roughly 2 or 3 years ago, I made the decision to change.
I was tired of being tired.
I was unhappy with myself in every way. I was tired of never feeling good enough for anything or anyone.
I was sick of constantly putting myself down, and having terrible thoughts rush through my head on a daily basis.
My Doctor had prescribed medication to treat my anxiety and depression, however:
I didn’t think the medication was enough, so added something else into my recovery… I exercised and started a clean healthy diet ☺
I researched hundreds of diet plans, what exercise plans were currently working for others, the good and the bad foods.
I researched workout plans & different fitness training methods.
There are so many fitness programs and opinions on the internet but I just did what worked best for me.
I started with running around my local streets, along the beach, around lakes, up in the bush, everywhere, and eventually started training at a gym.
I was doing simple weight training workouts I had found online.
It wasn’t long until I was addicted to the endorphins. I started to see results, which was even more addictive. My mindset changed. The way I viewed myself and the world changed.
I can’t quite put into words how exactly this happened. But anyone would understand that after you exercise you are instantly in a better mood, and are proud of yourself for pushing yourself to workout. I had never had that feeling, and I started to get it every time I worked out, which is the reason why I kept going.
I hope my story can help other people who are struggling, to try something new, step out of their comfort zone, get on the exercise band wagon, and make a positive change to overcoming their depression.
Step 1. Write Down your goals & Purpose
“How do you stay so motivated?”
Literally, on a daily basis I get asked this.
“I wish I had the determination and motivation you have”
When i decided to change my life, i quickly signed up to Instagram & Pinterest – I started looking for motivational quotes and pictures of the top athletes to inspire myself.
I saved a lot of them, set them as screensavers on my computer and phone, pinned pictures to my walls in my room.
I put photos and quotes pretty much every where! I also wrote down goals when I thought of them.
Writing down your goals, and putting them somewhere you can see reminds you of what you’re working towards.
By placing these motivational images and quotes everywhere, it was a daily reminder of why I started, and why I need to keep going.
After looking at these amazing girls for so long, it got me hooked on the idea of competing in a fitness competition and I was so motivated to become a fitness role model like they were to me.
2. Progress not Perfection
“Strive for progress not perfection” is a major motto I live by.
Since the very start of my journey, all I wanted to do was become a better version of myself. I didn’t want to be “perfect” or “skinny” I just wanted to be the best person I could.
I wanted to become healthy and happy, and live a normal life.
Progress is the only thing you should work towards. Beating your PB’s, beating your old self!
Don’t ever try to compare yourself to other people. I learnt that the hard way. I used to compare myself to other people, but then I realized that will only bring me down.
I learnt that everyone is different, and everyone is unique. I remind myself on a daily basis, that there is no one else like me, and that I shouldn’t ever try compare myself to others.
The only person you should compare yourself to is the old you. The old you who had no self esteem, no desire to do anything.
The way I tracked my progress is different. I tracked it by how my mind had changed, and how my negative thoughts no longer controlled my life. Having this effect on my mind, helped me transform my body.
I could see physical changes after my exercising, which again bought on endorphins and gave me a natural high about life.
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Step 3. Inspire others first
During this new journey of mine, I didn’t realize that I would be inspiring other people. I had a lot of people around me, tell me how amazing the progress I made was, how I was inspiring them to make changes in their lives. I even had people from my Instagram comment and say I inspired them to make changes in their life, and I was their daily motivation.
The feeling when someone says these things to you is unreal. It gave me a lot of motivation to keep going, to continue striving for progress, and to inspire more people. Everyone needs something to keep them inspired, so I continue to blog/post about my progress, to remind other people that they can too, make progress.
4. Mindset & Momentum (Staying motivated)
Do you ever feel maybe 50%, then go to workout and come out feeling 110%?! That is what keeps me going every day.
Exercise releases endorphins, it makes you happy. A lot of people think of it as a chore, but I don’t think they realize the positive mental effects it can give you!
The term “gym junkie” could also be described as “happy junkie”. There are so many people who know the good feelings that come after exercising, and there are still so many who don’t. This is why I hope my story can help others deal with their depression, and hopefully make it easier.
Motivation is different for everyone. For me, what got me started was looking at myself in the mirror, my state of mind, my thoughts and the fact I no longer wanted to be that person. I needed to change the way I was so I dug deep and found something that turned into motivation. I found the desire to be better, to better for myself, for my family and friends. I used that feeling of useless-ness and turned it into wanting to be better.
5. You are what you eat
You actually are. In this life changing journey I learnt SO much about foods, and what each bit of food did to my mind and body. A lot of highly processed foods can trigger your depression and anxiety and make it worse.
After eating burgers and fries and ice-cream from Mcdonalds, How do you feel? Lazy, Lethargic? For most people, this can have a negative effect, and when you consume foods like this daily, it eventually shows physically. This made me feel worse about myself. I used to eat bad highly processed foods and drinks on a regular basis.
Once I started feeing myself nutritious foods, both my appearance and mood changed. You instantly have more energy; you’re more alert and alive! You would never get that after eating fast foods/highly processed foods, which goes to show “YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT”.
Even if you do not believe the words I am saying, there IS scientific research that shows the negative effect foods can have on your moods/mind and depression. Just take the caffeine and anxiety example noted here.