“Exercise ferments the humors, casts them into their proper channels, throws off redundancies,  and helps nature in those secret distributions, without which the body cannot subsist in its vigor, nor the sole act with cheerfulness…Joseph Addison ( 1672-1719).



Depression is a sullen state of mind or feeling associated with a disinclination for previously normal routine activity. It affects a person’s sense of well-being, thought processes, behaviour, feelings and livelihood. Depressed persons often feel sad, guilty, hopeless, anxious, helpless, disinclined, anorexia, bulimia nervosa, reduced libido, low self esteem, poor sense of well-being, feeling of emptiness, restlessness and irritability.

A study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine by Heesch, a senior lecturer at Queensland University of Technology, predicts that depression is expected to be the leading cause of death in high income countries and the second-leading cause of worldwide illness by 2030. The National Institute of Mental Health states that over 70% of women are potentially likely to be depressed at some point in their lives than men, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asserts that 1 in 10 US adults suffers from depression.


How Exercise Benefits Depression

Exercise benefits depression by causing the release of chemicals called endorphins which modulates with the brain receptors to ameliorate the perception of pain. The aftermath of this mimics euphoria-like state and a positive sense of well-being. Depression sufferers have described other health benefits of exercise like:

  • Sleep improvement
  • Enhanced appetite and sense of well-being
  • Better concentration and cognitive abilities
  • Stress reduction
  • Increased energy and sense of alertness
  • Decreased levels of anxiety and depression
  • Improved self-esteem

Since exercise has overall health benefits in almost every department of our entire being, it consequently has a positive rub-off effect on depression too. Some of the other health benefits of exercise include:

  • A positive sense of well-being, fitness and healthiness
  • Reduction of obesity and body fat
  • Lowers high blood pressure
  • Improves Diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels
  • Improves muscle strength and tone
  • Improves confidence
  • Strengthens bones and posture
  • Improves libido
  • Enhanced immunity
  • Better digestion


Yoga to Make You Happy, Relaxing Beginners Routine for Stress & Depression, Lori Austin

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Exercises That Improve Depression Symptoms

It is highly recommended that you seek a Doctor’s advice if you have a pre-existing chronic medical condition, and of age 50 and above before commencing any exercise regimen. Ideally, an exercise program of 20-30 minutes duration at least four times in a week should suffice.


1. Walking

Walking is not strenuous and is easy to commence. It gives a sense of freedom and being in control which creates the likelihood for continuity. According to Robert Brown, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry and behavioural science at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, walking equips the participants with self-mastery, power, control and self-reliance. This is because walking as an outdoor activity is a self-determined and self-propagated endeavour.


2. Dancing

The health benefits of dancing with respect to depression derives from intention, movement and expression. Dancing engenders freedom on a physical and emotional level which unleashes positive feeling on depression sufferers. Indeed dancing permeates the realm of therapeutic art, beauty and performing art. Dancing may not be ideal for clinical or major depression which falls under the domain of specialist care.


3. Swimming 

Swimming by virtue of its repetitive nature possesses a potentially meditative component that aids progressive muscle relaxation, a health benefit that improves depression symptoms. Swimming effects this mopping up excess flight or fight stress hormones, thus converting free-floating apprehension into muscle relaxation which calms the individual. The sequential contraction and relaxation of skeletal muscles in association with rhythmic deep-breathing induces beneficial biochemical alterations in the brain, like releasing endorphins.


4. Jogging

Jogging is a confidence booster since runners gradually but steadily attain a sense of can-do spirit resulting from the air of freedom and empowerment. Tasks and trials are surmounted with every jogging activity which helps boost morale, a positive self image and aids weight loss. Running creates the runner’s high which mimics a sense of euphoria arising from the release of endorphins. Jogging has benefited most patients with clinical depression and some form of addictions by lessening stress, reducing tension, decreasing fatigue and enhancing vigour.



Exercises for improving depression symptoms are the lifeblood of many depression sufferers. There are specific processes on this site that are proven and tested to get you results as long as you have the commitment to follow through. Andrew Okpetu invites you to visit this site again for more on the relationship between stress, depression and health.