6 Exercises Proven to Fight Depression

You’ve probably noticed that going for a walk, running, and other physical activity can make you feel happier. There’s strong evidence that exercise can prevent and treat depression.According to a recent systematic review and network meta-analysis published in the The BMJ, three types of exercise are beneficial for treating depression:Walking/jogging: Walking is one of the safest dynamic exercises you can perform. It engages almost every joint in the body with multitudes of small, repeatable, subtle movements. Walking is easy to scale, promotes good posture, and can help prevent falls.Yoga: Yoga works on both the mind and body. It provides mechanisms for refocusing thoughts and excellent strengthening for the body, especially the core muscles. Research shows that practicing yoga can alleviate symptoms of depression, with some studies suggesting it’s as effective as medication and exercise. It’s been shown to both provide immediate relief and reduce long-term symptoms.Strength training: Exercising to increase strength and endurance can improve your overall health and help with depression as part of a holistic approach. A 2018 meta-analysis published in JAMA Psychiatry reviewed 33 studies on the effects of strength training on depression. Across all of the studies, strength training reduced depression in those who were depressed. And those who weren’t depressed were less likely to become depressed.If you’re struggling with depression, these exercises can be a game-changer. Not only can they help you manage your symptoms, but also, they can provide a solid foundation for a healthy lifestyle.6 Exercises to Combat Depression1. WalkingWalking is a great way to exercise and an opportunity to break out of your daily routine.Step 1: Start walking at a normal pace for about 5 minutes, paying attention to what your body tells you.Step 2: Accelerate your pace and maintain it for about 15 minutes.Step 3: Slow to your normal pace and cool down for 5 minutes.Walking can simultaneously loosen almost all of your body’s joints. You can adjust the walking time to your preference, but a shorter routine is provided to help you get started.Yoga2. Standing Forward Bend With Raised HandsThis exercise stretches posterior muscles, improves arm flexibility, and includes a light cardio component.Premium Picks(Chung I Ho/The Epoch Times)Step 1: Start by standing as tall as you can with your arms to your sides and your feet shoulder-width apart for stability.Step 2: Slowly bend forward while keeping your back and knees straight until you touch the floor with your palms or reach as far as possible. Move slowly, taking about 2 seconds to move down and back up again. Step 3: Slowly reach straight overhead with both arms, then lower them back to your sides.Step 4: This counts as 1 repetition. Try to perform 3 sets of 12 stretches.If you find it difficult to bend down all the way, try holding the position for a few seconds while keeping your back and knees straight. This will allow your muscles to stretch gradually. Avoid the temptation to bend your knees or round your back to reach further.3. Garland Pose/Deep SquatGarland pose is a beneficial exercise for improving leg strength, flexibility, posture, balance, and endurance. It stretches the hips, thighs, and groin, opens the chest, and strengthens the ankles.(Chung I Ho/The Epoch Times)Step 1: Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.Step 2: Keeping your back straight and your head up, slowly squat down to the floor until you are almost sitting on your heels. Your feet should be flat on the floor, and your balance should be neutral. Your arms should be out in front of you with your palms together and elbows bent. The backs of your upper arms should rest on the inside fronts of your knees.Avoid placing too much weight on the balls of your feet or lifting your heels off the floor; instead, keep your weight well-distributed. Your toes and knees will want to turn out, but don’t allow them to turn out too far. Step 3: Hold this pose for about 30 seconds and relax into the movement before rising. Try to do this 3 times.Squatting is a common exercise in many parts of the world, although people in the West are not used to it. If you find it difficult to squat down all the way, try placing something under your bottom to make it easier. With regular practice, your performance will improve quickly, so don’t get discouraged if you struggle at first.4. Downward Facing Dog With SplitThis challenging exercise improves flexibility and strength by using all four limbs and engaging the hips.(Chung I Ho/The Epoch Times)Step 1: Stand with your arms by your sides and your feet shoulder-width apart. Step 2: Bend forward at the hips and bring your arms down to the floor. Keep your back and knees straight.Step 3: Walk your hands out so your palms and feet are flat on the floor and your hips are bent about 90 degrees. Step 4: Extend one leg straight out behind you, keeping your k

6 Exercises Proven to Fight Depression

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You’ve probably noticed that going for a walk, running, and other physical activity can make you feel happier. There’s strong evidence that exercise can prevent and treat depression.

According to a recent systematic review and network meta-analysis published in the The BMJ, three types of exercise are beneficial for treating depression:
  • Walking/jogging: Walking is one of the safest dynamic exercises you can perform. It engages almost every joint in the body with multitudes of small, repeatable, subtle movements. Walking is easy to scale, promotes good posture, and can help prevent falls.
  • Yoga: Yoga works on both the mind and body. It provides mechanisms for refocusing thoughts and excellent strengthening for the body, especially the core muscles. Research shows that practicing yoga can alleviate symptoms of depression, with some studies suggesting it’s as effective as medication and exercise. It’s been shown to both provide immediate relief and reduce long-term symptoms.
  • Strength training: Exercising to increase strength and endurance can improve your overall health and help with depression as part of a holistic approach. A 2018 meta-analysis published in JAMA Psychiatry reviewed 33 studies on the effects of strength training on depression. Across all of the studies, strength training reduced depression in those who were depressed. And those who weren’t depressed were less likely to become depressed.
If you’re struggling with depression, these exercises can be a game-changer. Not only can they help you manage your symptoms, but also, they can provide a solid foundation for a healthy lifestyle.
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6 Exercises to Combat Depression

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1. Walking

Walking is a great way to exercise and an opportunity to break out of your daily routine.

Step 1: Start walking at a normal pace for about 5 minutes, paying attention to what your body tells you.

Step 2: Accelerate your pace and maintain it for about 15 minutes.

Step 3: Slow to your normal pace and cool down for 5 minutes.

Walking can simultaneously loosen almost all of your body’s joints. You can adjust the walking time to your preference, but a shorter routine is provided to help you get started.

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Yoga

2. Standing Forward Bend With Raised Hands

This exercise stretches posterior muscles, improves arm flexibility, and includes a light cardio component.

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(Chung I Ho/The Epoch Times)
(Chung I Ho/The Epoch Times)

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Step 1: Start by standing as tall as you can with your arms to your sides and your feet shoulder-width apart for stability.

Step 2: Slowly bend forward while keeping your back and knees straight until you touch the floor with your palms or reach as far as possible. Move slowly, taking about 2 seconds to move down and back up again.

Step 3: Slowly reach straight overhead with both arms, then lower them back to your sides.

Step 4: This counts as 1 repetition. Try to perform 3 sets of 12 stretches.

If you find it difficult to bend down all the way, try holding the position for a few seconds while keeping your back and knees straight. This will allow your muscles to stretch gradually. Avoid the temptation to bend your knees or round your back to reach further.

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3. Garland Pose/Deep Squat

Garland pose is a beneficial exercise for improving leg strength, flexibility, posture, balance, and endurance. It stretches the hips, thighs, and groin, opens the chest, and strengthens the ankles.

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(Chung I Ho/The Epoch Times)
(Chung I Ho/The Epoch Times)

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Step 1: Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.

Step 2: Keeping your back straight and your head up, slowly squat down to the floor until you are almost sitting on your heels. Your feet should be flat on the floor, and your balance should be neutral. Your arms should be out in front of you with your palms together and elbows bent. The backs of your upper arms should rest on the inside fronts of your knees.

Avoid placing too much weight on the balls of your feet or lifting your heels off the floor; instead, keep your weight well-distributed. Your toes and knees will want to turn out, but don’t allow them to turn out too far. 

Step 3: Hold this pose for about 30 seconds and relax into the movement before rising. Try to do this 3 times.

Squatting is a common exercise in many parts of the world, although people in the West are not used to it. If you find it difficult to squat down all the way, try placing something under your bottom to make it easier. With regular practice, your performance will improve quickly, so don’t get discouraged if you struggle at first.

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4. Downward Facing Dog With Split

This challenging exercise improves flexibility and strength by using all four limbs and engaging the hips.

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(Chung I Ho/The Epoch Times)
(Chung I Ho/The Epoch Times)

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Step 1: Stand with your arms by your sides and your feet shoulder-width apart. 

Step 2: Bend forward at the hips and bring your arms down to the floor. Keep your back and knees straight.

Step 3: Walk your hands out so your palms and feet are flat on the floor and your hips are bent about 90 degrees. 

Step 4: Extend one leg straight out behind you, keeping your knee straight, until your leg is in line with your body at approximately 45 to 55 degrees. Lower your leg back down and repeat the movement on the other side.

Step 5: This counts as 1 repetition. Try to perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions per leg.

This exercise works a lot of muscles simultaneously and can be challenging, so don’t be discouraged if you find it difficult. With practice, it will get easier.

Easy Exercises to Combat Chronic Disease

More from this series

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Strength Training

5. Double Dumbbell/Can Snatch

This compound movement engages multiple muscles simultaneously and is most effective when combined with the other exercises.

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(Chung I Ho/The Epoch Times)
(Chung I Ho/The Epoch Times)

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Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold 2 dumbbells or cans. Squat down and touch the weights to the floor. Keep your back straight and your weight off your toes.

Step 2: Stand back up quickly, then push the weights overhead. Use only as much weight as you can safely control during these movements. Lower the weights back to the floor.

Step 3: This counts as 1 repetition. Try to perform 3 sets of 12 repetitions and adjust weight, sets, and reps accordingly.

This exercise provides a challenging full-body workout. Although it may initially be difficult, it is easy to master with practice.

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6. Pushup

Pushups are a classic bodyweight exercise that can quickly build upper body strength and core stability.

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(Chung I Ho/The Epoch Times)
(Chung I Ho/The Epoch Times)

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Step 1: Assume a classic pushup position with palms and feet on the floor and elbows extended.

Step 2: Bend your elbows to lower yourself close to the floor while keeping your back and legs straight, then push back up.

Step 3: This counts as 1 repetition. Try to do 3 sets of 10 repetitions, modifying as needed.

Modification: Place your knees on the floor to make pushups easier.

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