When someone is experiencing depression they are very unlikely to want to do things such as physical activity or exercise. They would prefer to sit in a chair and do nothing or even sleep. Often they will say ” I will do it when I feel like it”.
The problem with this is that if you do what you feel like doing, you will feel depressed. Withdrawal and inactivity will fuel depression. When a depressed person is passive or inactive they spend time worrying, obsessing or ruminating and this never leads to feeling better, only worse. When depressed any physical activity is better than nothing.
Physical activity will help to improve mood although some activities are better than others. When considering they type of physical activity it appears that both physical and mental effort are important. The greater the effort required the stronger the impact it has on improving mood e.g. going for a brief walk is good but jogging or running is better.
Exercise has many positives for a person with depression, apart from increasing fitness, and some of these are: exercise may block negative thoughts, distract people from daily worries, and increase a sense of control or self esteem, improve sleep patterns, increase energy levels, and exercising with others may increase social contact.
Exercise may also change levels of chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, endorphins and stress hormones. Regular exercise as a treatment for depression has the added benefit of improving general health and preventing serious illnesses.Edit