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It’s well known that exercise can help with the symptoms of depression but what type of exercise to do?  Here is a list of my five favorite physical activities for beating depression.

1) Boxing / Boxercise You don’t need to join a gym or spend lots of money on equipment.  All you need is a set of wraps to protect your wrists, a pair of gloves, contact pads and maybe a heavy bag if you don’t have anyone to train with.  There are loads of boxing drills available for free on youtube.  Once you’ve mastered the basic punches you can start putting routines together and this really boosts confidence.  I always feel like I’m walking 10 feet tall after a boxing workout.  Try it out and you’ll see an immediate lift in your mood and your depression symptoms shouldn’t feel as bad.

2) Yoga Yoga is the classic blend of mental and physical exercise and is one of the best natural ways to fight depression.  It gives you a suprisingly good workout and also works on calming the mind.  You can do yoga without any equipment or at most you need a mat.  I got started in yoga by following free videos on youtube and only went to my first class after about two years of home practice.  I found the biggest difference in the class was the focus on the mental side of yoga and the breath.  I realised I had been treating at a competitive sport and was always trying to push myself.  My teacher taught me to slow down and focus on relaxing the mind.  If you’re looking for an activity that is challenging but can be taken at your own pace I’d highly recommend yoga.

3) Kayaking I enjoy kayaking because it’s a good workout and always leaves me feeling relaxed and happy.  Because you are immersed in nature and have the calming sound of water (assuming you’re not whitewater kayaking) your body and mind are natrually relaxed.  Obviously you need a kayak and some basic training before getting on the water, depending on where you live there should be somewhere near where you can hire one and have lessons to see if it’s the sport for you.  When kayaking I try and synch my paddle strokes with my breath and this gives an added dimension to the exercise and works like a meditation and is wonderful for the mind.

4) Hiking Hiking is another activity that places you in the middle of nature and great for lifting the dark feelings of depression.  Hiking can be done by people of all fitness levels and the only equipment you need is a decent pair of boots.  You can’t beat the feeling of walking through a quiet forest or relaxing on a mountainside enjoying the view.  Being outdoors helps alleviate the feeling of depression because the worst thing you can do is shut yourself away.  Hiking is great for people with depression because you can enjoy being outside but you don’t have to mix with other people if you don’t feel like it.

5) Running Nothing feels better than standing in the shower after a hard run, all your worries have melted away and you’re left with sore feet and a warm glow.  Again, the only equipment needed is a decent pair of shoes.  If you’re new to running  there are loads of training plans freely available on the internet.  When you’re running all you need to focus on is breathing and your mind automatically calms.  The release of endorphins after the run gives you a natural high and cannot be beaten.  It doesn’t matter how far or how fast you run – just do it!

Whatever it is that make you happy, sports, music, reading, A Mission for Michael a Drug Alcohol Treatment Center in Orange County would like to encourage you to do what you love and if you need a little help, A Mission for Michael would love to be a part of your journey! – AMFM