My Lifeline: Exercise

Read why this New Jersey blogger recommends reading Nita Sweeney’s book, Depression Hates a Moving Target.

Me doing cardio boxing in our basement “gym”.

In my blog I’ve written a great deal about my depression and anxiety throughout my life so I thought it was time to write about what has helped me with depression and anxiety. One of the best tools for me throughout the years has been exercise.

You probably hear all of the time that you should exercise and that it’s good for your health and well being – your heart, your bones, weight loss, etc. There has been much research done to verify the benefits of exercise on physical health. There has also been much research, however on the benefits of exercise on mental health such as on depression and anxiety.

One article from the Mayo Clinic discusses how exercise can ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety. (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-2004649)

The article discusses how exercise releases endorphins (chemicals resembling cannabis released by your body that make you feel good). Exercise also helps to give you confidence especially about your appearance, and make you feel like you’ve accomplished something. It can help you meet people and help take your mind off of your worries. It is a positive coping strategy compared to negative ones like substance abuse.

The article discusses the difference between “exercise” and “physical activity”. Exercise includes activities such as running and lifting weights that get your heart pumping. These activities help improve your mood. But physical activities such as gardening, washing your car and walking around your block can also improve your mood. “Any physical activity that gets you off the couch and moving can help improve your mood.”

My exercise is usually walking on the treadmill or outside, weight training and cardio boxing. Tennis used to be my sport but I have a great deal of trouble playing tennis due to my impaired vision (mostly caused by my Type I Diabetes).

I usually work out in our basement which is equipped with a treadmill, exercise bicycle, elliptical trainer, punching bag, and free weights. We’ve accumulated this equipment gradually over the 16 years we’ve lived in our house. I feel very fortunate that we have this equipment in our basement. We used to join the Y or gyms, use them for a few weeks and then stop and cancel our membership.

But with our “home gym” I can literally roll out of bed, walk down to the basement and start working out. I currently don’t do this though due to other responsibilities like helping my daughter get off to school. I also need to eat breakfast before I work out. But it’s a nice idea though!

I try to exercise every day by walking on the treadmill every other day and weight training and cardio boxing on the days in between. My main problem with exercise is my depression trying to convince me not to do it because I’m too tired, don’t feel like it, and that I should stay on the couch. Luckily I usually manage to push through these thoughts and work out. But it isn’t easy at all!

My exercise helps me with anxiety too. When I was at my worst with anxiety and I would call my husband at work, he would convince me to hop on the treadmill. I was so anxious that I wouldn’t even change into workout clothes. Even if I walked 10 minutes it helped ease my anxiety somewhat.

I recommend reading the book, Depression Hates a Moving Target by Nita Sweeney. She writes about her bouts with depression and how running has helped her with them. Running has actually helped decrease her need for higher doses of her depression meds.

I also recommend a song and video written and performed by my husband, entitled “Run With My Troubles.” In this song he sings about how running has helped him with his own depressed and anxious feelings. Here is the video:


Depression Hates a Moving Target by Nita Sweeney

Depression Hates a Moving Target

How Running With My Dog Brought Me Back From the Brink (Running Depression and Anxiety Therapy, Bipolar)

It’s never too late to chase your dreams. Before she discovered running, Nita Sweeney was 49-years-old, chronically depressed, occasionally manic, and unable to jog for more than 60 seconds at a time. Using exercise, Nita discovered an inner strength she didn’t know she possessed, and with the help of her canine companion, she found herself on the way to completing her first marathon. In her memoir, Sweeney shares how she overcame emotional and physical challenges to finish the race and come back from the brink.