Fighting Depression With Exercise from 3 Continents

Fighting Depression With Exercise – Introduction

Research shows that fighting depression with exercise is a legitimate option to manage the symptoms of depression.

This is critical information if you have treatment-resistant depression, or want to get off of medications.

Studies show that exercise is indeed medicine for the body, mind, and soul.

That’s why your favorite fitness routine can be an excellent addition to your depression treatment plan.

“Exercise stimulates the release of many of the brain chemicals thought to be in low supply when someone is battling depression,” explains David Muzina, MD, the founding director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Mood Disorders Treatment and Research.

how to naturally fight depression
Fight Depression Naturally with Exercises such as Push-Ups

Which Exercise is Best?

The question is which workouts work best in fighting depression with exercise?

The answer is whatever gets you moving!

Can you walk?

Start walking 30 minutes to an hour a day.

Do you prefer to run?

Then run!

Rowing, swimming, weightlifting, tennis, whatever it is, get moving!

Get out of your home and get moving.

Sitting all day is terrible for your health and fitness.

The Impact of Only Walking

A couple of years ago, I met a man who asked me if I could call a childhood friend of his and help him out of his depression.

Immediately I said yes, and called his friend.

The man told me that his friend had wasted away in his apartment for over 15 years.

He began to experience major depressive symptoms after his divorce and subsequent estrangement from his only child.

I understand the pain of both and implored him to consider just a walk every day, just to get outside of the room he had sat in for over a decade.

  • He did not want to.
  • Instead, he said several times, maybe, at the end of the day.
  • But, he did not want to get up and start moving physically and metaphorically beyond his pain.

I explained to him how much just moving would help him, but it was to no avail.

Finally, he started to walk 15 minutes, and then slowly increased his time to 30 minutes, and after six months he was walking 45 minutes to an hour a day.

The mental and physical changes were amazing.

From walking only, he experienced a weight loss of 65 pounds over the course of a year.

More importantly, he can manage his depression without medications.

He no longer suffers over a past that cannot be changed and is grateful for what he has in the present.

He is a new man.

The Takeaway

As I said to him, so I say to you and myself, just get up and get moving.

It does not matter what exercise you do, but at the least start walking and for strength training,

I find that:

are most effective for battling depression.

But, the best exercise is the one you love and stick with.

So, if you prefer surfing or ice hockey, go for it!

Why Push-Ups for Fighting Depression and Anxiety?

As opposed to squats and deadlifts, you do not need a gym.

You also do not need to have weights and a power rack in your home.

Gym equipment in an apartment is not too practical, and even in a home is not always possible.

For example, if your basement or garage has a low ceiling, now what?

But, as long as you have a floor or carpet, you can do pushups.

Can you fight depression with pushups?

I say yes, and I am not the only person who fights depression with the simple push up.

Look at this article on how exercise affects your mood from the Black Dog Institute, a pioneer in the identification, prevention, and treatment of mental illness.

My comments are in italics.

How to Fight Depression Naturally with Push-Ups – Australia

fighting depression naturally with exercise and pushups

A Canberra, Australian man who has fought a battle against depression is doing 3,000 pushups in three hours to raise funds for the Black Dog Institute and awareness of the major depressive disorder.

I doubt that 3,000 push-ups is a realistic number for most of us. 

But, why not shoot for a bare minimum. 

I like 100

Whatever you like, 100 or 1,000, you will definitely feel better!

Bill Lockley will undertake his challenge from 6:00 am to 9:00 am on Thursday 17 November at the corner of Martin Place and Elizabeth Street in Sydney, Australia.

“I love pushups and I hate depression, so doing one to fight the other was a natural fit,” Lockley said.

“All year I’ve been engaged in a running battle against depression.

I’ve had good days and bad days, but one thing that always seemed to help me keep the black dog at bay was getting regular exercise.

I can only confirm and agree with Bill Lockley’s statement. 

Keeping the black dog of depression away is a lot easier by getting regular exercise. 

Push-ups are not the only way, but all you need is yourself and a floor, what is more convenient than that?

Even if you can only do one push up, start there and gradually increase your push-ups.

When I started doing push-ups, I could only do one.

Whether you use squats, deadlifts, bench press, kettlebell swings, or calisthenics exercises like pushups and pullups, the Latin expression Mens sana in corpore sano is as true today as it was in the past – As your body gets stronger, so will your mind.

The Importance of a Mental Health Diagnosis

“It was a self-test from the Black Dog Institute that convinced me to seek further help earlier this year, so I wanted to do something to help them reach others struggling with depression.

“I know that exercise can have a very positive effect on people experiencing depression.

Doing 3,000 pushups in three hours is how I choose to get exercise, but if you aren’t quite up to that, there are plenty of other ways to let exercise lift your mood.

If you are unsure whether you are depressed or not, ask yourself the traditional SIGECAPS questions as a start, and if your doctor diagnoses you with depression, you can use the new SIGECAPS mnemonic as a guide to help major depressive disorder.

Depression Statistics in Australia

Around one in five Australians will suffer from a mood disorder in their lifetime.

For some people, it will be an isolated occurrence.

However, the reality is that for many people, it will be an ongoing challenge throughout their lives that will also impact loved ones around them.

The Black Dog Institute is a not-for-profit organization helping people who are depressed and by undertaking this initiative we know we are helping those affected to enjoy a normal life.

The Institute has an international reputation for its outstanding research while at the same time operates a clinic for people with mood disorders at its Randwick facility as well as extensive community programs and education and training for health professionals.

For further information:

Contact: Bill Lockley: Mobile: 0425 299850 Email: or Ian Dose (M) 0419 618 606

A Man Swaps Pills for Pushups! – Great Britain

Another story which appeared on the web¹ about fighting depression with exercise and specifically pushups is below:

A BATTLE against the blues has led a Lesbury man to swap medication for membership of a local gym – with remarkable results, not only for his mental health but also for his weight.

David Hawkins has suffered from serious depression since the age of 18 but now, aged 50, he is getting his life back on track thanks to the Village Farm Health Club and Spa in Shilbottle.

And in the process, he’s shed an incredible nine stone ( 126 pounds ), which has been a further massive boost to his confidence. David, of Lealands, said his struggle to cope began towards the end of his teens.

“There was a history of depression in my family and both my father and grandfather suffered from it,” he said.

“I don’t know why it happened to me, to begin with, perhaps it is a genetic predisposition.

“I then went on to have a career in sales and worked in a very high-pressure environment, which didn’t help matters.

“You were only ever as good as your last sale and in the end, I was made redundant.

It was devastating.”

When Medication Does Not Work

Like so many other people struggling with depression, David went to his doctor and was prescribed medication.

But while it stabilized his emotions, he found it had an increasingly negative impact on his life as time wore on.

“After many years of taking many different kinds of antidepressants for mood swings and anxiety, I was finding that the medication was making me feel like a zombie, that my personality was being drained away,” he said.

“My weight had also become a big problem and I had shot up to 23 stone ( 322 pounds ).

“I felt trapped and very isolated. I had been to gyms before, but they felt like factories, way too commercial and not that interested in you as a person.”

In 2009, David first found the inner strength to launch himself into a fitness drive, but he admits he wasn’t able to sustain it at that point in his life.

“I managed to shift a lot of weight over the course of a year, but because of the ongoing depression, I stopped going to the gym and I put six stone ( 84 pounds )of it back on again in just a few months,” he says.

“I was desperate, but I knew I had to get back on top of things.

“The staff at Village Farm were a massive help in keeping me motivated, very helpful, incredibly supportive, friendly, and caring – the whole place has a lovely, welcoming feel.

“They have also helped me to take a more balanced approach to weight-loss by making small, gradual changes to my lifestyle and so far I have kept the weight off.

As a result, I feel much fitter and more stable.

I have a general feeling of health and wellbeing.”

The Turning Point

“Looking back, it has proved to be a huge turning point for me, and very gradually I have been able to stop taking all medication.

My mood swings are now under control and my anxiety is manageable.”

David’s wife Carol has also noticed a transformation in his well-being.

“This has made a big difference to the way David is,” she said.

“We went out for a drink for the first time in ages last week.

He seems so much happier with himself.

I only hope it continues.”

David added:

“By going to the gym, the social contact has increased and my confidence and self-esteem have developed.

I no longer feel socially isolated and depressed.

I cannot recommend this alternative road to recovery too highly.”

“My hope is that my experience encourages others to take positive action.”

“I’m extremely grateful to the staff at Village Farm and thankful to them all for their motivational support.”

Benefits of Exercise for Depression – United States of America

Last but not least is an article from the Mayo Clinic describing the benefits of exercise for Depression:²

Research on anxiety, depression, and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help reduce anxiety and improve mood.

The links between anxiety, depression, and exercise aren’t entirely clear — but working out can definitely help you relax and make you feel better.

Exercise may also help keep anxiety and depression from coming back once you’re feeling better.

How Exercise Helps Depression

Exercise probably helps manage depression in some ways, which may include:
  • Releasing feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters and endorphins)
  • Reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression
  • Increasing body temperature, which may have calming effects

Exercise has many psychological and emotional benefits too. It can help you:

Gain confidence

Meeting exercise goals or challenges, even small ones, can boost your self-confidence.

Getting in shape can also make you feel better about your appearance.

Take your mind off worries. 

Exercise is a distraction that can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression.

Get more social interaction. 

Exercise may give you the chance to meet with others.

Just exchanging a friendly smile or greeting as you walk around your neighborhood can help your mood.

Cope in a healthy way. 

Doing something positive to manage anxiety or depression is a healthy coping strategy.

Trying to feel better by drinking alcohol, dwelling on how badly you feel, or hoping anxiety or depression will go away on its own can lead to worsening symptoms.

There are many other studies that corroborate and support the anecdotal evidence of many people who have lifted their depression through exercise.

If you want to get fit, end obesity or fight depression, start a pushup, squat, or deadlift workout program.

See 23 Things I Learned From Doing 100 Push-Ups a Day at 62 Years Old. 

Here is how to do 36,500 Push Ups this year.

Fighting Depression with Exercise – Final Thoughts

Exercise is not a depression cure-all. 

But, a new study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology found that exercise promotes happiness. 

More physically active people reported greater general feelings of excitement when compared to less-active people. 

Exercise may also reduce stress and help you get a better night’s sleep.

Depression is a nightmare for anyone who is in its grip.

Not only for you but for your family, friends, and coworkers as well.

You need options for fighting depression naturally.

Fortunately, studies around the world show that exercise is as effective against depression as medications.

What’s Next

You have choices besides medications, even the simple push up is an effective depression treatment alternative.

You can do the push up anywhere and get leaner and stronger just from pushups.

Besides the body transformation provided by the benefits of pushups, now you know how pushups are also a great tool for fighting depression and anxiety disorder.

Last but not least, use the SIGECAPS mnemonic to manage depression before starting on antidepressants.

What do you think are the best tips for fighting depression without medications?

Do you have other suggestions?

Did you ever use aerobic exercise or bodyweight exercise like pushups to fight depression?

Related Posts:


¹ Depression-hit David swaps pills for push-ups — Northumberland Gazette

² The Impact of Exercise for Improving Depressive Symptoms – Mayo Clinic

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