Exercise And Depression - Get Active In Menopause And Feel The True Benefits Of Exercise

Exercise and depression - find out how getting active can help you beat depression in menopause.


You may have been exploring the different ways to deal with depression. Exercise is an excellent antidote to mild or moderate depression.

Not only does it boost your mood, it has loads of other physical and mental benefits which can help you towards a happier and healthier transition.

Psychological benefits of exercise

Physical benefits of exercise

How much exercise do you need?

What kind of exercise should you choose?

Add more exercise to your daily routine

How to get started and stay motivated

Exercise and depression: the psychological benefits of exercise

Exercise boosts mood and can help to lift depression
ŠIstockphoto.com/Lisa F. Young

According to the Mental Health Foundation, using exercise as a treatment for depression for mild to moderate depression can be as effective as using an antidepressant.

This is one of the great bonuses of exercise if you are one of the many women who would prefer not to take medicines and are looking for a more natural remedy for depression.

It's been shown that exercise boosts the supplies of the feel-good chemicals like serotonin to the brain. This in itself is enough to help lift your mood, but exercise can have many other psychological effects as well. Regular exercise during depression can:

  • Help to lift your mood, reduce anxiety and make you feel more in control and less prone to feeling helpless and hopeless.
  • Keep you free of depression in future, and be there as a strategy you can use if you should notice the warning signs of depression.
  • Give you a sense of achievement and focus.
  • Improve your concentration.
  • Get you out of the house and into the company of other people.
  • Take you away from your everyday worries and cares and give you something else to focus on for a while.
  • Raise your self-esteem and confidence, making you feel stronger and more capable.
  • If you opt to play a team sport, you can feel that you have a role to play and are making a contribution to your side.
  • Give you a purpose - especially if you set yourself some goals.

Exercise and depression: the physical benefits of exercise

Exercise doesn't just help your mental state - it has many benefits for your body as well. That's why it's such a great way to manage menopause depression, as it has so many good effects on both body and mind.

Regular exercise can:

  • Help you to avoid menopausal weight gain.
  • Keep you free of any worrying side effects of antidepressants.
  • Build stronger bones and help to keep osteoporosis at bay.
  • Help to lose fat and gain muscle - both vital strategies in the battle for weight loss in menopause.
  • Keep your heart healthy and protect against strokes and coronary artery disease.
  • Help to prevent some types of cancer.
  • Establish you with a healthy habit that will can make a real difference to your longterm health and wellbeing, both physical and mental.

To all of that, add the fact that exercise is a natural remedy for depression which can be free or very inexpensive, and there are masses of activities to choose from.

Exercise and depression: how much exercise do you need?

Around 30 minutes of exercise every week should be enough for you to get the benefits and raise your mood. If you want to exercise to lose weight, you should be thinking of around four hours a week of an aerobic exercise program, plus some strength training exercises to build muscle.

You don't have to do your half hour all in one swoop. Break it down into 10-minute bouts if you prefer.

If you haven't exercised for a while, or are completely new to exercise, check first with your physician to make sure the exercise is the right type for you. You should also consult the leader of any group you join to make sure you have chosen a suitable level.

Start gently and build up. Don't exhaust yourself, or get so puffed that you can't speak. Enough exertion to break a light sweat and not too out of breath - that's the level you should aim for. You can check your target heart rate as well, to make sure you're working at the right level.

Exercise and depression: what kind of exercise to choose

Would you like to exercise with other people? Look for a class or regular session, or consider sports where you play with a partner, like badminton or tennis, or as part of a team, like hockey and netball.

Prefer to do your own thing? Try exercise DVDs to motivate you, or simply build more activities into your daily life without taking any organised activities.

If you're in the UK, your GP may be able to send you to an exercise referral scheme.

Exercise to raise money for charity. Search online for sponsored sports events near you - there are numerous charity runs and other events each year. Or put something back into your local community and join a Green Gym.

If tackling menopausal weight gain is a concern, make sure you include aerobic exercise, strength training exercises, and some weight bearing exercise as well.

Exercise and depression: make each day more active

As well as - or even instead of - taking up a new exercise activity, you can raise the levels of exercise you get and feel many of the benefits by getting more active in your daily life.

- Do housework or gardening with real application - give it some welly.

- Leave the car at home and walk whenever you can.

- If you have kids or grandchildren, get active with them - kick a ball, chase the little ones, take them swimming.

- Add that extra exercise activity into your routine - go for a walk after breakfast, take a weekly swim, or an evening jog.

- Make it fun - put on music and dance. Get a dog - or offer to walk one for a neighbour or friend.

- When you're at work, take the stairs rather than lift to travel 2-3 floors. Make part of your commute on foot. Get together with colleagues to do sponsored event, or go along to a lunchtime class near the office.

- Remember that diet and depression are also linked, so be sure to have a healthy menopause diet.

Exercise and depression: how to get going and stay motivated

When you're feeling depressed, it can be very hard to motivate yourself to do something - and then to keep going with it. Try these strategies to set you off on the exercise path:

- Do your exercise with a friend or family member - make a regular commitment and agree that you'll encourage each other to keep going.

- Pay up front for a series of classes - there's nothing like a financial incentive to urge you out of the door!

- During the colder months, plan indoor activities.

- Set some goals. Make them small and very achievable to start with. Reward yourself when you reach them - then set a new aim. Keep a note of what you achieve to spur you on.

- Commit to raising money through a sponsored event. The idea of doing some good for other people, and doing your own mind and body good at the same time will be a great incentive to keep on progressing.

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Exercise and depression

"My motto is 'Never mind how far you go in what time, just spend some part of your day being active'.

"The hardest thing is getting out there and doing something. The first thing I put on every day is my exercise gear and it's a statement to myself - I'm going to look a right idiot if I don't actually do something that's warranted wearing it!"

Trisha Goodard, TV Presenter, quoted by the Mental Health Foundation.


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