A Guide for Exercising When Depression Keeps You in Bed

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Exercise is good for depression, but it is hard to exercise when you’re depressed. Get ideas to motivate yourself to exercise when depression makes it difficult.

A Guide for Exercising When Depression Keeps You in Bed

Doctors and mental health professionals agree: Physical activity, including exercise, is high on the list of effective treatments for depression and nearly every other mental disorder. This is great, unless you are experiencing depression so all-encompassing and severe that getting out of bed is excruciatingly difficult.

The good news is that exercise isn’t an all-or-nothing thing. You don’t have to compete in a triathlon to reap mental health benefits. Use this guide for exercising even when depression keeps you in bed:

  1. Establish your mindset. What will be better when you exercise to decrease depression?
  2. Move while in bed. Several times throughout the day (set alarms to remind you), gently stretch and wiggle from toes to the top of your head. Curl your toes. Then flex your feet. Next, roll your ankles. Continue this way up to your head.
  3. After several days, add a bit to your movements. Stand up and stretch. Walk a few steps.
  4. Gradually increase the steps you walk and the time you spend moving.
  5. Give yourself permission to progress at your own pace, because with depression, physical activity isn’t easy.

With physical activity like this as part of your overall depression treatment plan, and with patience and persistence, you will gradually gain the upper hand over your depression.

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APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2018, October 1). A Guide for Exercising When Depression Keeps You in Bed, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Last Updated: October 2, 2018

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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