Endurance sports training is a useful tool for people with depression. Many studies demonstrate that regular physical activity can improve mood, along with other positive mental health outcomes.
Some symptoms people may experience when depressed are: long periods of very low mood, low energy, difficulty concentrating, insomnia or hypersomnia, diminished interest in most activities, weight changes, almost daily feelings of guilt or worthlessness, recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
Working with an endurance training plan can help some people regulate their moods more effectively. Training can provide an outlet and a focus. It can also help reduce the impact of low moods. By training with a group, or focusing on a goal, some people with depression are able to better manage some of the barriers they might otherwise feel (such as not wanting to get out of bed). Getting outside and feeling the sun can help raise mood levels, and connecting with fellow athletes can also reduce feelings of isolation.
Check out this blog about one woman’s experience with a bipolar diagnosis and being an endurance athlete from 5K to Ironman:
Also you can listen to this podcast by another athlete who deals with depression:
Please note that this article is intended to help people evaluate whether it can help to augment mental health treatment with physical activity. This advice is not intended to provide diagnosis or mental health treatment. Please consult your mental health provider and your physician before trying any new exercise training programs.
- Dr. Nyamora
Dr. Cory Nyamora is an endurance sports coach with certifications from USAT and USATF, a licensed clinical psychologist, and the founder of Endurance – A Sports & Psychology Center, Inc. He provides endurance coaching for beginner and experienced athletes, as well as psychotherapy services to children, adults, and families.