Ask any mental health professional, and they will most likely agree that exercise and social support can only help people suffering from depression (and people in general). So what better choice can you make for yourself than exercising with a friend?
As a woman diagnosed with dysthymia (a form of depression), I personally have experienced the benefits of exercising with a friend. Although I usually think of exercising as a solitary activity, I decided to try working out with a co-worker right after work ended.
I’ve been working out almost every day after work for two weeks, and I’ve noticed a major improvement in my mood and the way my body feels (and I’ve even lost weight). Of course I still have my depression, but it is much easier to cope with now that I feel healthier, feel better about myself, and have something fun to look forward to every day.
Other factors that might be contributing to how I feel is taking OxyElite Pro pills every day as well, and maintaining a healthier diet. The pills boost my energy level and get rid of my headaches I’ve noticed. I am not endorsing these pills for others, however, I have a feeling that exercise, eating a healthy diet and socializing with a friend is what’s given me the best results, not a weight loss pill.
Understandably, it might be difficult to find a friend who can work out with you consistently, but try asking around at work and among old friends to see who is willing.
I found my workout partner after overhearing her asking other co-workers to work out with her and telling her workout stories to others. I managed to approach her about the idea of exercising together, and we came up with a set workout routine.
Here is the workout routine that I am currently doing that I believe has helped me cope with my depression:
Instead of heading to a gym, my co-worker and I work out at a local high school’s track every day after work Monday through Friday. This not only saves us money but allows us to breathe fresh air instead of being stuck inside all day.
If there is a game and we are unable to use the track, we go to a nearby park. Our routine currently consists of four laps (a mile) of speed walking, four laps of running and a lap of lunges. I had to work up to the lap of lunges, and we keep increasing the speed and distance, and decreasing the rest periods every week.
On Saturdays, we hike a nearby mountain called Piestewa Peak, and on Sundays we rest. If weather doesn’t permit outside workouts, we go to one of our houses/apartments and do a TurboFire video workout. Before, during and after working out we also talk, so we are experiencing both positive social contact and exercise at once.
There are many other types of workouts that are probably just as beneficial, but these are the ones my co-worker suggested we try. I honestly think any exercise with a friend would improve depression symptoms, and it will have other health benefits as well if it’s done on a consistent basis.
One of the best reasons to have a workout partner, besides the social aspect, is that you now have someone to hold you accountable for working out, and you also don't want to let someone else down by not showing up to exercise.
A recent study featured in a New York Times blog suggests that exercise could be used instead of a second medication to help improve depression. Another article in Time magazine online points to exercise potentially as the “best drug for depression” as well. For people who are physically able to exercise, there is certainly no harm, since exercise is free and has other health benefits besides lifting mood.
Having more friends and being social has been linked to lower levels of depression in some studies as well. For example, one study in a 2010 ScienceDaily article found that “compared with friendless children, those who had friends were less likely to report depressed feelings.”
Have you tried working out with a friend? Does it make a difference for you?
Reynolds, Gretchen. Prescribing Exercise to Treat Depression. Prescribing Exercise to Treat Depression – NYTimes.com. Web. Oct. 25, 2011. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/31/prescribing-exercise-to-treat-depression
Blue, Laura. Is Exercise the Best Drug for Depression? Exercise Lifts Mood, but Does it Work Against Depression? – TIME. Web. Oct. 25, 2011. http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1998021-1,00.html
ScienceDaily. Kids Got the Blues? Maybe They Don’t Have Enough Friends. Web. Oct. 25, 2011. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101216101843.htm
Reviewed Wed October 26, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith