There are many articles out there stating that exercising helps in your mental illness – mainly depression and anxiety. Those articles are not wrong.

Exercising releases “feel good” chemicals in your brain that will help improve your mood. Chemicals like endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin are commonly found in antidepressants as well. So, yes, exercising does improve your mood, but is it really beneficial to people who have depression and/or anxiety?

The answer depends on each individual. There are days where you feel good and have the energy to go for a run or hit the gym – go for it. But there are also days where you feel that your energy level is low – best if you ask yourself if you should put yourself to exercise.

Sometimes exercising can further your depression and anxiety. Being in a crowded gym or a packed class might be a big anxiety trigger for you – you might feel like you are being judged or disappointed with yourself that you did not push yourself hard enough.
How can you not let yourself in that vulnerable situation?

  1. Set small goals. Perhaps start by running for 10 minutes, then increase slowly with each run.
  2. DO NOT force yourself. If you are not feeling up to it, do not pressure yourself in exercising. This might worsen your condition.
  3. Seek professional help – doctors and physical trainers – they could help you with setting achievable goals.
  4. If you really want to exercise, find someone you are comfortable with to go with you. This way, they can encourage you and help you along the way.
  5. Listen to yourself. If you decide to stop in the middle of a workout, do it. Do not force yourself into doing something you might feel worse after.

To those who keep saying exercising is good for your mental health:

By constantly telling them to exercise does not help with their mental illness, sometimes it might worsen the condition as they might feel that they are not good enough or are not trying hard enough. Trust me when I say, they are well aware and let them work on it at their own pace.

Chermaine Chua
Sales & Marketing Executive
Force 21 Academy