6 Tips For Getting In Shape When You’re Depressed

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Experts often say that exercise helps cure depression— but for many of us, regular exercise is already one of the world’s most difficult challenges. Getting to the gym while depressed? That’s asking a lot.

But the experts aren’t wrong: a regular exercise routine does help with depression. Exercise helps you sleep better, improves your overall health, and gives you confidence. Plus, exercise gives you endorphins, and endorphins are part of what make you happy.


Not sure how to stick to an exercise routine when you’re already feeling down? These tips may help.

Start Small

Diving into a full-scale exercise habit is asking a lot, especially if simply getting out of bed is a struggle. Stay in the sheets? Why not, if the alternative is “running 10 miles.”

Don’t demand so much. Start your exercise routine with tiny steps — literally. Instead of a marathon, try a 20-minute jog. Instead of jumping into an intensive spin class, try yoga.

Of course, tailor this advice to your experience level. If you ran marathons before depression reared its head, a 20-minute jog might be too easy. Maybe start with a 5K. And if you’ve never set foot on a treadmill, consider walking before you run.

The main point: Starting with a simpler routine gets you back in the game, and celebrating these small accomplishments builds excitement and momentum — necessary for getting back in shape.

Stay Realistic

You’re not a Tesla Roadster — you can’t go from zero to 60 in two seconds flat. Or even two months. Starting small means nothing if you’re working toward unrealistic goals. Not to mention unrealistic goals make failure more likely. And let’s be real: Right now, you need a win.

To set your goals, think about where you’d like to be, physically, a few months from now. Pumping iron like Schwarzenegger? Rocking the Chicago Marathon? Free-soloing El Capitan?

Now scale back. Think about where, realistically, you will be. Maybe that’s a 5K, not a marathon. Maybe you’re hitting the climbing gym daily. Remember: You’re not simply improving your body, you’re also working to improve your mind. And that’s hard! Realistic goals make achievable goals.

Pick an Activity you Really, Really Like

Don’t make this harder on yourself by forcing yourself to do an exercise you hate. Despise running? No big deal! Running can suck. Try swimming instead.

Here’s the theory: Motivating yourself to exercise when you’re depressed is hard. Sometimes it feels rocket-science hard. Make it easier by picking something that doesn’t feel like exercise. After all, “exercise” isn’t limited to Olympic track and field events. Consider playing tennis, joining a softball league, or even going to yoga at your favorite breweries.

The most important thing is finding something you’ll be hard-pressed to skip.

Don’t Beat Yourself Up for Mistakes

Let’s be real: You’re going to mess up. Don’t feel ashamed! It’s 100 percent fine to miss a spin class, skip the gym, or run out of breath on mile three. Failure may feel crushing, but the feeling can be overcome — if you’re compassionate with yourself.

Instead of lingering on your screwed-up exercise session, practice empathy for yourself. You’re working hard to overcome your depression, and that’s something worth celebrating. Don’t give up your efforts. Instead, resolve to try again.

Next time, you’ll succeed. And if you don’t? Keep going back to the gym, or putting on your tennis shoes, or meeting your buddies for pick-up basketball. Eventually, exercise will get easier.

Reward Yourself

And we don’t just mean at the end of your journey. Don’t plan one reward — plan many! Perhaps you’re doing a program like Couch to 5k. Give yourself a treat every time you advance a week in the program. Or, if you’re working on your climbing skills, reward yourself for each increase in difficulty level.

What exactly constitutes a “reward” is entirely up to you. Maybe you watch a new episode of your favorite TV episode — or maybe you treat yourself to ice cream. (Counterintuitive? Maybe. But if it gets you moving…why not?) Choose something that’s a true incentive. Otherwise, you may not find yourself working toward the goal.

Build a Support System

You’re not in this alone. Your friends and family are rooting for you, too — so get them involved in your process. Maybe your mom is looking to start running, too. Go running together! Need a climbing buddy? Ask a few of your pals.

Or maybe just ask your friends to check in on your progress once in a while. But make sure they understand the journey you’re on and how it involves more than simply your physical well-being. You want friends that will celebrate the accomplishments you have made, not friends who will put you down for not crushing all your goals in half the time expected.

Follow These Strategies, and You’re 25% More Likely to Keep Exercising

Setting realistic goals, rewarding yourself, practicing kindness, and establishing a support system will all help you on the road to recovery. In fact, studies have found that depressed patients who practice these self-help tenets are 25 percent more likely to stick to their chosen exercise program.

Exercise is essential to overcoming depression, and these practices help integrate exercise into your daily routine so you can feel better faster.

This article first appeared on Talkspace

10 Amazing Things That Happen When You Do Yoga Every Day

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By Samantha LeFave

The yoga industry has seen its fair share of fads—goat yoga, boozy yoga, and naked yoga, just to name a few—but there’s one thing that remains a constant: People always roll out their mats. That’s because it’s an excellent way to get sweaty and centered, whether you’re a total newbie or longtime pro. Plus, there are some seriously awesome health benefits of yoga that you can score from a daily practice. Here are just a few of the most impressive ones that are worth a pat on the back (because, yep, now you can reach that far):

1. You have better flexibility and mobility.

This one may be obvious, but it’s worth mentioning because, hey, you may not have been able to touch your toes or connect your hands behind your back before practicing yoga. But being able to do that isn’t the only benefit to getting bendy.

Because yoga has a ton of postures that are performed to improve flexibility and build muscular strength, it also retrains our deep connective tissue, says Emilie Perz, a yoga movement therapist and teacher in Los Angeles. “Stress and anxiety can leave our tissues tired, tight, and stuck,” she explains. “[But] yoga focuses on whole body movement and awareness, so we can often use the poses to release and lengthen these chronically tight regions.”

Not only does this mean more flexibility on the outside, but you can also retrain how your body’s tissues hold together, Perz adds. The way to do that is with a consistent practice. “From more mobility to better posture, the poses themselves are a potent tonic that wakes our bodies up and moves them more freely through space,” she says.

2. You might lose weight.

If you’ve always thought that high-intensity yoga classes were the only way to lose weight, it’s time to retrain your brain. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with those styles—and research showsAshtangaBikram, and Iyengar varieties can be particularly effective thanks to their aerobic tendencies—a study from the American Journal of Managed Care found that a restorative practice can also be effective in lowering that number on the scale.

In the study, researchers divided a group of overweight women into two groups—those who took regular restorative yoga classes, and those who participated in stretching sessions, both of which lasted for 48 weeks. Those in the yoga group didn’t bust out any hard-core postures or speedy flows; researchers said the classes focused instead on relaxation and stress reduction. Poses were held for long periods of time, measured breathing was emphasized, and meditative music was played.

With all that in mind, you’d think weight loss wouldn’t really be the end goal. But this group lost significantly more subcutaneous fat (the kind that sits directly under the skin) than the stretching group did in the first six months and kept it off longer. So, this just goes to show that it’s not always about going hard-core all the time.

3. You could get better at other workouts, too.

Listen, no human being is interested in one thing and one thing only. So it’s OK to love yoga but also love bootcamp. Or running. Or touch football. Whatever your passion is, Perz says, it’s likely that a regular yoga practice can help you perform better. “Repeating postures gives [deep connective tissue] more buoyancy and adaptability, which allows our muscles to fire more effectively,” she explains. “This means practicing yoga daily may also help improve our performance in other exercise modalities.”

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to start doubling up your workouts all the time. On days you have another routine on the schedule, a quick 10-minute flow in the morning could be just what you need to get your body (and mind) in prime condition, Perz says.

4. You could reduce chronic pain.

Chronic, always-present pain isn’t something to mess around with. It can be seriously debilitating to your quality of life, and research shows it may even lead to depression. But multiple studies have found yoga to be an extremely effective treatment, especially for those suffering from chronic lower back pain, one of the most common forms, reports the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).

One such study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that those who had chronic lower-back pain self-reported better function and less pain after three months of weekly classes. They were also significantly more likely to quit pain relievers after a year. And with today’s opioid epidemic, that’s a great reason to give it a try.

5. You could boost your mental health.

All exercise is linked to lowering symptoms of depression, and yoga is no exception: A review of studies published in Frontiers in Psychiatry suggested that those with depression, schizophrenia, sleep problems, and other mental health conditions could all benefit from practicing yoga. Plus, Perz says that many people live for the mental benefits they experience. “When asked why we practice, both teachers and students alike tend to mention things like yoga being grounding, yoga [being] a tool to help them be ‘in their body,’ and yoga [being] the magic mood lifter,” she says.

Yoga can also have an immediate mood-boosting effect. “There are so many postures in yoga that help with depression and mood,” Robin Berzin, M.D., functional medicine physician and founder of Parsley Healthtold mbg. Some of her favorites for this purpose: camel pose, pigeon pose, and legs up the wall, which help you quite literally open your heart and find new perspective.

“Even when the fog of depression seems impossibly thick,” says Berzin, “connecting with the body is an awesome way to find presence, and presence is like a headlight that lets you see a way forward and out.”

Related Class

6. You may become more creative.

If you’re struggling to pull together that work presentation or hit a roadblock on your great American novel, it may be time to roll out your mat. “Research suggests that by practicing the mindfulness components of yoga regularly—including meditation, mantra, and deep breathing techniques—you can stimulate and increase your alpha brain waves, or the happy calm brain waves,” Perz says. “Through repetition of these mind-body techniques, you can alter the brain’s architecture that taps into your place of connection and creativity.”

7. You may have a more positive outlook.

You know it’s true: The way you think and act on the regular greatly affects your mood and how you feel about yourself. So it’s important to put yourself in a safe space where you don’t feel judged and can be in tune with your thoughts. Yoga is the place for that. “By setting intentions at the beginning of class and focusing on the present moment, you become more aware of negative thought patterns as they arise,” Perz says. “By understanding them and replacing them with a new activity, such as controlled breathing and mindful movement, you can reduce the psychological stress that onsets negative thoughts…and drastically improve your overall attitude and outlook.”

8. You could lower your risk of heart disease.

Heart health is more important than ever, with recent research from the American Heart Association showing that heart attacks, high blood pressure, and diabetes are increasingly more common in younger people—especially women. But it turns out yoga may help lower your risk. A review of studies published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that practicing yoga could help just as much as conventional exercise, like brisk walking. In fact, the studies analyzed various types of yoga—both athletic and more gentle flows—as well as a wide range of people with various health conditions. Overall, they saw that those who practiced lowered their blood pressure by five points and decreased their levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol by 12 points. What this suggests: It’s likely less about thetype of yoga you’re into and more about being consistent with your movement.

9. You could ease asthma symptoms.

You don’t want to ditch your conventional care for treating asthma, but research shows that yoga could be a great complementary treatment to help ease symptoms. A small study, published in BMC Pulmonary Medicine, looked at 57 adults with mild to moderate asthma and found that those who added a yoga routine to their schedule for eight weeks dramatically lessened their symptoms and needed to use medication less often. This may be thanks to the breathing practices that are associated with yoga—often called pranayama.

10. You could stress less and sleep better.

Ah, sleep. It’s the thing we’re always told to get more of, no matter how elusive that concept seems. If you’re struggling to snag more shut-eye, yoga could help. In fact, according to a recent national survey from the NCCIH, over 55 percent of yogis report improved sleep, and more than 85 percent said they were less stressed. Marlynn Wei, M.D., a psychiatrist in New York City, told Harvard Medical School that a lot of the credit (again) goes to the breathing practices in yoga, which can help you relax and relieve tension after a crazy stressful day.

Snowboarding Being Used as Therapy for Kids in Utah

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**I would LOVE to try to start something like this!!!!!**

People who snowboard will tell you it is fun to get out on the mountain and slide. But for some Utah kids, snowboarding is therapy, and perhaps even life changing.

I decided to go riding with kids in the CHILL program.

Pulling on a pair of snowboard boots and grabbing a board may not sound like therapy, but to troubled kids snowboarding is a healthy way to let out some of that energy, frustration and anger. They have a lot of fun and learn they can succeed without drugs or violence.
To learn to snowboard, you gotta have the right gear. It’s all provided free from the CHILL program sponsor, Burton Boards. Founder Jake Burton started the program 12 years ago to help at risk kids.

On this afternoon, about 45 kids from a half-dozen community youth programs and social service agencies are shedding their old labels to become snowboarders. Once at Brighton Resort they tackle a new challenge, learning to snowboard.

All of the kids in the CHILL program face issues, things like drug abuse, depression and violence. But here they have a chance to learn some important life lessons.

Mike Cawdry, SLC CHILL Program Coordinator: “The first week we work with patience, this week with persistence, then we throw in integrity and courage and a number of other different thematics we use as curriculum.”
The kids and counselors say snowboarding is a great way to get out your frustrations. The process of learning how to set goals and reach them is important, too. Charlie, Age 15: “It’s a great feeling of accomplishment.”

Chris Black, Telos Program Counselor: “A lot of them come from a history of not having that feeling of achievement or being told that they can’t do things or being put down. With the CHILL program, it allows them to have that experience.”

Chris, Age 18, Salt Lake City: “Get out and see that they can do more positive things in their life than using drugs or fight or anything like that.”

Ninteen-year-old Solena was in the program four years ago and says it changed her life. Now she works at Brighton and rides often.

Solena, CHILL Graduate: “It really builds your confidence. When you are good at something it makes you want to try harder at other things, I think.”

In all there are about 180 kids from Utah who ride once a week for six weeks in the CHILL Program.

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