Is exercise the cure? There are lots of studies out there supporting the argument that physical exercise can help you beat depression, anxiety, and stress. I recently read a book by clinical psychologist Stephen S. Ilardi, Ph.D. called “The Depression Cure”. Dr. Ilardi emphasized exercise as one of his 6-steps to beat depression without drugs.
Dr. Ilardi reviewed studies that indicate that 90 minutes a week of aerobic-type exercises work best. This is where your heart rate gets elevated to 60 to 90% of our maximum heart rate. You can calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from the number 220. Then multiply that number by .60 to .90. He has a simple suggestion to get your heart rate to 60% of your maximum heart rate. You can do this by walking fast like you are late getting from one gate to another at an airport. I have found that to be pretty accurate. Divide the time up however you want to get to 90 minutes a week.
Hopefully, you’ll find quick relief from anxiety and stress with this type of exercise. In the beginning, it can quickly return. But, you can find some moments of relief on those days of exercise. Depression will take longer to beat. The hope is that over time you will find relief from that as well. And by that time your anxiety will also be relieved. I know that there will continue to be times where depression will hit. Those of us who have had it are always more likely to experience it again.
I know that it is easier said than done to get motivated to commit to exercise. Most people find motivation really difficult if it is for the reasons we usually commit to exercise – to look better or to feel more fit. But fighting chronic depression and anxiety can be a big motivator.
If anxiety and depression are a problem for you, keep fighting. I know adding physical exercise to your routine isn’t possible for everyone. Talk to your doctor before taking on any new physical activities. Talk to your therapist about how to add aerobic physical activity into your life. Keep on fighting!