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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Beattie

EXERCISE: The other treatment for Depression that doesn't require a medical degree.

Are you suffering from depressed or low mood? Feeling stuck in a rut? Looking for ways you can help yourself?

There are 3 main treatments for mild-moderate depression; Medication, Exercise and Psychotherapy. Depending on the factors affecting the depression, one or more of these options may be appropriate to break out of the depressed mood cycle.

Break The Cycle:

What are the benefits of exercise?

  • Social Benefits

  • Decreased Risk of Diabetes and Heart Disease Management

  • Decreased Stress

  • Improved Mood

  • Improved Sleep

  • No Negative Effects

  • Free

  • It requires approximately 20 minutes for the positive effects of physical activity to be felt, that is less time than many medications!

What does the research say?

The Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) suggests:

1. 30 minutes of exercise

2. Moderate intensity (think brisk walk, as if you were late for something)

3. Do this 2-3 times per week

4. Try for at least 9 weeks

5. Structured and supervised to help with adherence (this could be an Occupational Therapist, Kinesiologist, Physiotherapist, Personal Trainer, guided by your GP, etc.)

What are some ways to get started?

  • Brisk walking (socially distanced of course!) with a friend or your dog.

  • Joining a fitness class (plenty of virtual fitness classes online! My personal favourite is Yoga with Adriene).

  • Use a free fitness app to set a goal and track your progress.

  • Going for a bike ride with a family member.

  • Incorporate photography into your outing for added motivation.

  • Find a staircase inside or outside to get your heart rate up.

  • Gardening with a spouse.

How to keep yourself accountable to exercising?

  • Doing exercise with another person, such as a friend or family member keeps you more accountable to completing the exercise. See if you can challenge someone you know to try it with you.

  • Use a mood diary to track the exercise completed and how you feel before/during/after exercise.

  • Try different types of exercise to find out what you enjoy doing or change up the types of exercise you do during the week.

At Pacific Peak Therapy our Occupational Therapists are trained in providing both mental and physical health support. Our aim is to make the treatment meaningful to each client, which also helps with motivation! Talk to an OT to find out how you can take action to improve your mood.


Glowacki, K., & Faulkner, G. (2019, September 1). The Exercise and Depression Toolkit. Retrieved from

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