Depression-Busting Exercise

In the past year, especially since the beginning of 2011, I've noticed that I've been struggling with more intense bouts of depression than I have in quite some time, if ever.  Regardless of whether I'm on or off medication, I keep getting sucked deep into depression's black hole.  When I'm there, it's a struggle to get dressed in the morning, much less write, hoop, clean, leave the house, take a shower, pray, or do any of the things that I either want or need to do.  For me, the word that bests describes the effects of depression is inertia. 

This morning I ran across a great article from WebMD that has got me thinking about why my depression has become so much more intense these days.  The article discusses the effects exercise has on depression patients.  I thought the information the article had to present was pretty astounding.  Consider this statistic:

In one 2005 study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise five days a week reduced symptoms of depression by nearly half after 12 weeks.

Wow.  Essentially, if exercise is included in the treatment plan for a patient with depression, they are likely to experience 50% more success in overcoming the disease.  That's pretty amazing.

And then I realized -- when I started taking medication to combat my depression back in 2009, I was exercising regularly.  Well, I was really overexercising, which I don't advocate, but still -- I was exercising.  I was reaping the benefits of exercise in my battling with depression.  I got daily doses of mood-boosting, blues-busting endorphins. I moved my body regularly, and that combined with my depression medication to help me rise above that awful inertia. 

And, today, I don't move regularly.  True, it's been a rough year even without factoring in preexisting mental health issues.  Still, the fact is that my failure to exercise on a mostly-daily schedule has allowed depression to take a more solid hold on my life. 

Over the past few days I have been trying to get back into an exercise routine, trying to train my body and mind to include that discipline my daily life again.  I've been exercising for at least twenty to twenty-five minutes a day with Jillian Michaels -- and it's true that even that small (but intense) bout of effort raises my mood and energy levels for a short while afterward.  It's been hard to get myself out of my pajamas and into my sneakers, but it's been worth it even in the short term.  Imagine the effects, both on body and mind, after twelve weeks of this!  I'm eager to find out.

Honestly, this concept isn't new to me.  I already knew that exercise boosts the mood.  I also already knew about the story of Jonathan Baxter, creator of The Hoop Path, and how he found that a daily hoop practice helped him defeat depression.  But I guess I forgot, or at least forgot how it applies to my life.  I'm grateful for the reminder

If you are a regular exerciser, do you find that exercising lifts your mood or combats depression?  If you're not, are you willing to join me on a journey to defeat depression with exercise?

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