9 Awesome Fitness Activities for Depression

Fitness activities for depression have been getting a lot of attention lately and for good reason. Fitness is an effective tool in the fight against depression. But what makes exercise so effective?

For one, exercise boosts levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine—all of which are chemicals that play a role in regulating mood. In addition, exercise encourages the growth of new brain cells and connections. This can help to offset the brain changes that are associated with depression (Trusted Source).

Exercise is also a great way to combat stress, which is a major trigger for depression. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins—chemicals that have mood-boosting properties. Exercise can also help to improve sleep quality, which is often disturbed in people with depression.

So, if you’re looking for an addition to your depression treatment plan, consider making exercise a regular part of your routine. You just might find that it makes a world of difference. And to get you started, here are 9 great fitness activities for depression.

Cat’s nutrition and fitness program transformed her health and fitness in 12 weeks


Fitness activities like running offer incredible benefits for those struggling with depression and anxiety. They provide an outlet to clear your mind while reducing stress.

Activities that release endorphins are often recommended for people who suffer from depression. Endorphins are hormones that are released by the pituitary gland in response to pain or stress (Trusted Source).

They bind to opioid receptors in the brain and produce a sense of euphoria. Endorphins also have other beneficial effects, such as reducing anxiety and increasing pain tolerance.

The runner’s high that many athletes experience is due to the release of endorphins in the brain in response to sustained physical activity. Research has shown that just 30 minutes of moderate exercise like running can help to improve mood and reduce levels of anxiety (Trusted Source).


Weightlifting is another great activity to consider if you’re struggling with depression. Not only does it offer the same mood-boosting benefits as other aerobic activities, but it can also help to increase self-esteem and confidence.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is a common mental disorder that impacts more than 16 million adults in the United States every year.

Symptoms of depression can include feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. While medication and therapy are often effective treatments for depression, some people may also benefit from incorporating weightlifting into their routine.

Weightlifting has several potential benefits for mental health. First, it can provide a much-needed sense of accomplishment and boost self-esteem. Lifting heavier weights can also be an excellent way to release anger or other negative emotions (Trusted Source).

Additionally, weightlifting can help to improve sleep quality and reduce stress levels. For people struggling with depression, these benefits can be invaluable (Trusted Source).

These effects can help you stay strong and healthy well into your golden years. So if you’re looking for a way to improve your mental health and physical appearance, weightlifting may be the perfect solution.

Weightlifting is a great way to improve your mental health while also maintaining your body’s physical appearance. Lifting weights provides a physical challenge that can help you release anger or other aggression below the surface (Trusted Source).

This can be especially helpful after a long and stressful day at home or in the office. In addition, weightlifting helps to improve fitness and can be used as a form of therapy for depression.

In addition, weightlifting can help to improve sleep quality, which is often disrupted in people with depression (Trusted Source). A good night’s sleep is essential for overall mental and physical health.

So, if you’re looking for a way to boost your mood and keep your body looking its best, consider adding some weightlifting to your routine.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of fitness regime that involves repeated bouts of high exertion followed by periods of recovery.

HIIT has become increasingly popular in recent years, and small studies have shown it to be effective in reducing symptoms of depression (Trusted Source).

For people with depression, HIIT may offer a more sustainable form of exercise than traditional fitness regimens. In addition, HIIT can be done in short bursts, making it easier to fit into a busy schedule (Trusted Source).

Recently, researchers in Spain looked into the effects of different types of exercise on depression during lockdown due to COVID-19. The study recruited 67 adults who were all generally healthy and confined to their homes (Trusted Sources).

They were randomly put into one of two groups- HIIT or moderate aerobic exercise. The results showed that both groups had significant decreases in depression scores, but the HIIT group saw larger decreases.

This is encouraging news, as it suggests that even during a time when we are locked inside and unable to go to the gym or participate in fitness classes, we can still see improvements in our mental health by doing something as simple as working out at home.


Hiking in the woods is a great way to break free from the daily grind while becoming one with nature. Being in the woods helps to separate you from the hustle and bustle of your life and puts you in a calm and serene setting (Trusted Source).

Depending on where you live, hiking can be a challenge because of elevation gain and other weather elements. However, the peace of the woods can create the perfect setting for you to unwind and enjoy nature while you exercise(Trusted Source).

Like other forms of exercise, hiking increases blood flow to your brain and muscles which can emit endorphins to help you feel good!

For people who suffer from depression, hiking can provide an excellent opportunity to get out of the house and into nature, providing a much-needed change of scenery (Trusted Source).

With so many benefits, there’s no wonder why hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities!


Yoga is a form of exercise that has been around for centuries. It is a form of exercise that is low-impact and can be done by people of all ages and fitness levels.

Studies have shown that yoga can be an effective form of exercise for people suffering from depression. Researchers believe that depression is caused, in part, by a lack of communication between the left and right sides of the brain (Trusted Source).

Yoga helps to promote communication between the two sides of the brain by increasing blood flow and improving nerve function.

In addition, yoga helps to release dopamine and serotonin, which are two neurotransmitters that are known to improve mood. As a result, yoga can help to reduce the symptoms of depression and improve overall mental health.

Yoga promotes mindfulness and can help you to focus on the present moment. This can help combat the negative thoughts and ruminations that are often associated with depression.

In addition, yoga helps to improve sleep quality, which is often disrupted in people with depression. A good night’s sleep is essential for overall health and well-being, so this is a major benefit of yoga.

With so many benefits, it’s no wonder why yoga is one of the most popular forms of exercise!


Pilates is a form of exercise that was developed in the early 20th century. It is a form of exercise that is low-impact and can be done by people of all ages and fitness levels.

Pilates focuses on strengthening the core muscles, which are the muscles around your abdomen and lower back.

In addition to the physical benefits, Pilates has also been shown to have a positive effect on mental health. A study published in the journal “Depression and Anxiety” found that participants who did pilates four times a week for eight weeks had a significant reduction in depression symptoms (Trusted Source).

The study’s lead author, Dr. Michael R. Bracko, said that pilates can be an effective treatment for depression because it helps to “improve one’s sense of well-being and control over one’s body.”

Pilates is a great way to get moving and improve your mental health at the same time!


Dancing may not be the first exercise that comes to mind when thinking of ways to fight depression and anxiety, but you can’t afford to overlook its health benefits. Just 30 minutes of dancing can burn more than 200 calories, making it a great way to lose weight and improve your overall fitness.

Dancing is a great form of exercise for people with depression for several reasons. First, dancing is fun and upbeat, which can help to improve mood. In addition, dancing is a great way to release endorphins, which are chemicals that promote happiness (Trusted Source).

Dancing also helps to improve coordination and balance, which can help to prevent falls and injuries. This is especially important for older adults, who are at a higher risk for falls and injuries.

Finally, dancing is a great way to socialize and meet new people. For people with depression, it can be difficult to motivate themselves to go out and meet new people. However, joining a dance class or group can help to make new friends and combat social isolation.

With so many benefits, it’s no wonder why dancing is such a popular form of exercise!


Swimming is a great form of exercise for people with depression for several reasons. First, swimming is a low-impact form of exercise, which means it is easy on the joints. This is important for people with depression, as joint pain can be a major trigger for depressive episodes.

In addition, swimming is a great way to get your heart rate up and improve cardiovascular fitness. Swimming has been shown to reduce stress levels and improve sleep quality, both of which are important for people with depression.

Swimming is depression’s kryptonite. The act of swimming requires you to use most of the muscles in your body, giving you an excellent workout while also boosting your mood and energy levels.

The deep breathing required for swimming helps to fill your lungs with oxygen, which has a calming effect on the mind.

And finally, being in the water can be a refreshing and relaxing experience, providing a much-needed respite from the stresses of daily life. So if you’re looking for an effective way to fight depression, add swimming to your list of weapons. You may just find that it’s the best form of exercise for you.

Tai Chi

Tai chi is a form of exercise that originated in China. It is a form of martial arts that focuses on posture, balance, and breathing.

Like yoga, tai chi is another Eastern tradition that might help ease life with depression. Specifically, this slow, gentle practice may help reduce stress and relieve symptoms of depression, according to a review article published in April 2019 in Frontiers in Psychiatry (Trusted Source).

Tai chi is an effective way to fight depression and anxiety. A study published in the journal “Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine” found that tai chi was more effective than exercise in reducing symptoms of depression.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Chenchen Wang, said that tai chi is effective for depression because it helps to “improve one’s sense of well-being and control over one’s body.”

Practicing tai chi in a group setting may also play a role in depression relief. “A group class can reinforce a sense of autonomy and connectedness with others. You can also develop a social support network in an exercise class that you might not form when exercising alone,” said the study’s lead author, Peng Cheng, Ph.D., in a news release. “This is important because depression can be quite isolating.”

Tai chi is a great form of exercise for people with depression because it is low-impact, calming, and can be done in a group setting.

The Bottom Line

Depression is a serious medical condition that can negatively impact every facet of a person’s life. Symptoms can include feeling hopeless, worthless, and helpless; overwhelming fatigue; sleeping too much or too little; difficulty concentrating; and wide fluctuations in appetite. depression can also cause physical symptoms such as headaches, back pain, and gastrointestinal problems.

But it’s important to remember that depression is a treatable condition. Many different activities have been shown to help improve mood and lessen depressive symptoms.

These include exercise, meditation, journaling, spending time in nature, and participating in creative activities. If you are struggling with depression, know that there is hope. Seek professional help and/or reach out to a support group. You don’t have to go through this alone.

Exercise is a great way to improve your mood and well-being. It can help reduce depression and anxiety, and it can also help increase your energy levels and self-esteem. However, not all exercises are created equal.

Some people prefer high-intensity activities, while others find that low-impact activities are more enjoyable. The key is to find what works best for you. If you’re not sure where to start, try one of the following fitness activities: walking, dancing, swimming, yoga, or Pilates.

The fitness activities we’ve listed here are some of our favorites but don’t feel limited by them. Explore what types of exercise make you happy and help you feel good about yourself.

And if you need a little extra motivation, remember that our team offers free intro sessions so you can try out a few different classes before finding the one that’s perfect for you. Book your free No-Sweat Intro today and let us show you how easy it is to get started on the path to happiness and good health.

IKAIKA Fitness is a gym in Durham NC dedicated to providing personalized fitness programs to busy moms and professionals. 

IKAIKA Fitness strives in providing personalized programs that are safe, fast-paced, and efficient so busy moms and professionals can get back on track with their life goals – whether it’s exploring new places or just taking care of themselves mentally by seeking adventure through the activity!

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