Help Boost Your Mood with Exercise

Published on Jan 24, 2018
Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Pappadopulos, PhD

You probably know that exercise is a good thing, but when you have depression it may be the last thing you want to do. It may help to know that physical activity can help us lose weight and reduce blood pressure.

Studies have shown that regular exercise may also help relieve tension and stress and promote feelings of calm and well-being. Though further research is needed, studies in people with depression show that physical exercise can sometimes help:

  • Improve the effects on mood in some people.
  • Reduce symptoms of depression in people.
  • Benefit people with mild, moderate or severe depression.

The challenges of getting started

You might have trouble finding the motivation to exercise. After all, depression can cause disturbed sleep, reduced energy, appetite changes, body aches and pain. Here are a few tips that may help:

  • Start small. Even 5 minutes of walking or any other activity is a way to get started. Try to focus on taking that first step, or lifting that one weight. Who knows, that 5 minutes can turn into 10 minutes, and so on.
  • Set realistic goals. If you’re limited in your physical abilities, doing leg lifts while sitting in your chair or other chair exercises may be what’s right for you. Be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before starting any new physical activity.
  • Switch things up. If you find yourself getting bored with your exercise routine, try something different. Think yoga, dancing, or hiking.
  • Do something fun. If you like dancing, take a dance class or turn on the music at home and get shaking.

Be sure to speak to your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program.

Want to get started with becoming more active?

Consider tracking your mood before and after your workouts to keep motivated.

Download tracker.

Exercise tracker

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]


  • 1. American Psychological Association. Exercise Helps Keep Your Psyche Fit. Accessed January 12, 2018.
  • 2. The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise. Accessed January 12, 2018.
  • 3. Van der Borght K, et al. Hippocampus. 2009;19(10):928-36.
  • 4. Giraldo E, et al. Neuroimmunomodulation. 2009;16:237-244.
  • 5. Rethorst CD, et al. Sports Medicine. 2009;39(6):491-511.
  • 6. Blumenthal JA, et al. Arch Intern Med.1999;159:2349-2356.
  • 7. Depression. The National Institute of Mental Health. Accessed November 17, 2017.
  • 8. Medline Plus: Physical activity. Accessed November 1, 2017.
External Resources

Quick Poll

After reading this article, how likely are you to take steps to get moving to help boost your mood?

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