Fending Off Depression with Exercise: Five Ways to Stay Motivated

Patient Expert

It's one of the best things you can do for your mind and body. Here's how to break a sweat when it's the last thing you want to do.

Whether you're in the midst of a difficult time or feeling good and wanting to stay that way, exercise is an important piece of the puzzle. But how to make yourself exercise when you have no energy, no motivation to leave your house, and certainly no desire to break a sweat? Here are five tips that will keep you moving.

  1. Think of the workout as another prescription for your depression. I have no idea why it works, but it does – at least, it did for me on many occasions. After all, in a way, this is a prescription. Chances are the lift in mood is due to endorphins, which are believed to be released by exercise. Talk about a natural high!

  2. Get an exercise buddy. Yes, I can practically hear the groans now. But it's a tactic that really works. On the day that you really don't feel like working out, your buddy hopefully will be full of motivation.

  3. Keep the payoff in mind. If you find that exercise does lighten the darkness, even for a short time, isn't that kind of relief worth the effort?

  1. Recognize that, when you start thinking of excuses, they are, for the most part, not very impressive. Okay, so it's raining – are you going to melt? You're tired? Well, you will feel more energetic after you work out, so get up off the couch. Obviously you should not exercise if you're injured or truly sick, but don't let a case of sniffles or a slight headache give you an excuse that you think is plausible – it's not.

  2. Find your favorite way to pass the time if you find the workout boring. If you don't feel like listening to music, try books on tape. You do tend to walk a little slower, but you may find the workout flying by.

Do you have other tricks for finding the motivation to work out? Give us your tips here.