The links between depression, anxiety and exercise are clear – research shows physical activity can ease symptoms of depression and anxiety and make you feel better.
How does exercise help depression and anxiety?
- Releases feel-good endorphins
- Decreases stress, anger and tension
- Breaks the cycle of rumination
- Increases confidence
- Relieves muscle tension
- Increases blood flow to the brain
- Provides opportunity for social interaction
Despite the positive benefits- when you have depression or anxiety- exercise often seems like the last thing you want to do. And while joining a gym can be a fantastic way to get fit, it’s not the only way. There are a variety of ways to get moving that can help you get fit and feel better.
Here are 10 fun ways to get fit without a gym:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator-While this is a repeated piece of advice by most health professionals, its true. This simple act can add more steps into your routine, get your heart pumping and help you burn some extra calories.
- Park further from the building when you go somewhere-Whether it’s a grocery store, doctors office, mall- let’s face it, we all spend extra time circling around trying to find the closest parking spot. Next time, park near the end of the lot and walk in. The time you save by driving around the lot will make up for the time walking in- plus you will add more steps into your day.
- Take a walk- Taking a walk around the block is a great opportunity for some physical activity, fresh air and sunlight. You could even walk with a friend to add social connection, walk your pet, or listen to your favorite music. Walking is an easy way to get in shape because its free and something you can do pretty much anywhere.
- Move between TV commercials-No more sitting- you can walk, jog in place, or try this circuit: jumping jacks, lunges, high knees, push-ups and sit ups. No equipment needed- just get your body moving. Its amazing how much better you can feel physically, mentally and emotionally when you move just a few times a hour rather than sitting sedentary.
- Clean your house-I know…who wants to do chores? But scrubbing bathrooms, making beds, sweeping, vacuuming, wiping countertops can be quite a workout. Plus it feels good to be getting some tasks done and have a clean living space. So you can throw on some good music and get cleaning.
- Take a hike- Hiking is a great way to get your heart pumping while enjoying some fresh air in the great outdoors. The scenery and feeling of accomplishment after your hike can be so much more satisfying than an afternoon at the gym.
- Join a Team or Take a Class- Sometimes dragging yourself to the gym on your own can be difficult. How about signing up for an adult sports league? Sports make a game out of working out, so you’ll get your heart rate up, burn calories, and have a good time doing it. Or sign up for a free class at the local rec center- like salsa, rumba, yoga, or rock climbing. This offers an opportunity to try something new and not be on your own with a boring gym routine.
- Stand up at work- Work is a place where many of us are sedentary for hours. A stand-up desk could help change that. Standing helps increase leg strength and endurance. If your workplace isn’t a stand-up kind of environment, take a five-minute break at least once an hour to engage in some activity or walk around the building.
- Play video games that make you be active – Trade sedentary video games for more active ones such as Wii or Dance Dance Revolution or other games that require movement. You will still enjoy the entertainment of playing video games, but your body will be working too.
- Practice Yoga at home- There are a ton of free or cheap yoga apps that you can use to guide a yoga session at home. You can even start with as little as 10 minutes. This helps you get your body moving and stretching without having to go anywhere, all you need is a yoga mat- or even on your carpet will do.
As you can see, there is plenty of opportunity to get our bodies moving and get fit throughout the day without going to a gym- it just requires some creativity and effort. And this is sure to improve how you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally.