Psychology Today recently reported that exercise helps beat depression, calling it “not just a theory, but scientific fact.”
The Jan. 11, 2014, article said the exercise need not be intensive or exhausting to be effective. “After all, mustering up the energy to even get out of bed during our worst moments can be a real struggle,” said its writer, Graeme Cowan, best known for his award-winning “Back From The Brink” book series.
Cowan, who in 2000 went through a five-year episode of depression that his psychiatrist described as the worst he had ever treated, shared three forms of moderate exercise that have proven effective with depression.
He suggested: 1. Walking with a friend as “a great way of combining casual social interaction with moderate physical activity.” 2. Gardening or cleaning. “The longitudinal review of over 26 years of research specifically included gardening as part of the daily moderate physical activity which can have a profound impact on treating and preventing depression,” he said 3. Taking a pet (or friend’s pet) for a walk, thereby combining the energy and love of a four-legged friend with moderate exercise.
“Even the above suggestions for moderate exercise can be started off in small, manageable chunks for just a few minutes each,” Cowan said. “Don’t try and do too much too quickly.”
According to a report issued by the World Health Organization, more than 350 million people around the world have depression. A considerable number of people suffering from depression fail to acknowledge they suffer from it. Thankfully, this is nothing to be ashamed of. The Bible acknowledges that people can become low in spirit. At 2Corinthians 2:7, the Apostle Paul, a servant of God, showed concern for a man who “may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.” — English Standard Version.
How comforting to know that our loving Creator is described at 2 Corinthians 7:6 as the “God, who comforts and encourages and refreshes and cheers the depressed.” — The Amplified Bible. Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is there to rescue all who are discouraged and have given up hope.” — Contemporary English Version. According to Isaiah 57:15, God is so close to His depressed servants that He dwells “with the crushed and the lowly, reviving the spirit of the lowly, reviving the heart of those who have been crushed.” — Common English Bible.
How can anyone depressed get such comfort from God? Philippians 4:6-7 says, “In every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.” — GOD’S WORD Translation.
Does this suggest God will remove all our difficulties right now? Not necessarily? Why? Consider God’s promise at 1Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” — New International Version.
Perhaps you noticed that God did not promise to remove the temptation, but instead, to “provide a way out.” If the problem was removed, why would the verse say “so that you can endure it?” In the case of depression, knowing that exercise can improve our mental health may provide us with “a way out” to endure feelings of despair.
According to helpguide.org, “The key to depression recovery is to start with a few small goals and slowly build from there. Draw upon whatever resources you have. You may not have much energy, but you probably have enough to take a short walk around the block or pick up the phone to call a loved one.”
The online resource for mental and emotional health added, “You can make a huge dent in your depression with simple lifestyle changes: exercising every day, avoiding the urge to isolate, challenging the negative voices in your head, eating healthy food instead of the junk you crave, and carving out time for rest and relaxation. Feeling better takes time, but you can get there if you make positive choices for yourself each day and draw on the support of others.”
Experts say physical activity triggers new cell growth in the brain, increases mood-enhancing neurotransmitters and endorphins, reduces stress, and relieves muscle tension — all things that can have a positive effect on feeling depressed. Some people have been helped by their family physician. Others have included herbal medications, vitamins, with more nutritious meals. Still others need special treatment involving prescribed antidepressant medications. Why not check with your doctor?
Until a permanent solution for depression is granted, we can all find comfort in the prophetic words of Revelation 21:4 as they take on special meaning for sufferers of depression: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” — King James Version.