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Managing Stress, Anger and Depression with Exercise

Updated on July 27, 2012

Even a small amount of exercise each day can help manage stress and anger, reduce feelings of depression, improve mood, relieve lower back pain, and increase energy.  Exercise is often prescribed as an enhancement to treatment for depression and seasonal affective disorder.  Unfortunately, depression can take away the motivation, desire and energy to exercise, and depressive thoughts can convince a person that they will not benefit from exercise or are not able to exercise.  If increased weight has accompanied the depression, feeling “too fat” or “too unfit” to exercise at a fitness club or to take a walk is a common reaction.  Financial stressors can convince a person that they can’t afford a gym membership or exercise equipment, and can’t afford to exercise. 

Using an exercise ball for training develops core strength and flexibility to help keep muscles and joints functional and safe from injury. With exercises as simple as sitting on the ball and bouncing lightly, core strength is developed as your body
Using an exercise ball for training develops core strength and flexibility to help keep muscles and joints functional and safe from injury. With exercises as simple as sitting on the ball and bouncing lightly, core strength is developed as your body
Strengthen your core, improve your flexibility, and practice balance with the Thera-Band Exercise Ball. Available in five sizes to fit users from 4 feet, 7 inches tall to 6 feet, eight inches tall, the Thera-Band Exercise Ball is ideal for physical t
Strengthen your core, improve your flexibility, and practice balance with the Thera-Band Exercise Ball. Available in five sizes to fit users from 4 feet, 7 inches tall to 6 feet, eight inches tall, the Thera-Band Exercise Ball is ideal for physical t

A ten minute workout at home with an exercise ball, with or without hand weights could be part of the solution. It is an important part of any recovery or wellness program to recognize what you CAN DO to help yourself, and JUST DO IT, even if you have to FAKE IT TO MAKE IT. In other words, if you don’t feel like exercising, pretend you do, or ACT AS IF. Then, eventually you will.

Exercise balls are known by a lot of different names to include stability balls, pilates balls, Swiss ball, Pezzi ball, balance ball, birth ball, yoga ball. Exercise balls are large plastic balls that were originally used in physical therapy and other medical treatments. They are now used in athletic training.

Exercise balls work “the core” - abdominal and back muscles. The body has to work harder using the ball than it would with floor exercises, because the ball requires use of more muscles to maintain stability in response to the instability of the ball. Over time these muscles used to maintain stability strengthen.

When choosing an exercise ball, choose the one that fits your height. Be sure that when you sit on it, your hips and knees are level, and your upper leg is parallel to the ground. If your hips are higher or lower than your knees, the ball does not fit properly.

Below are a number of links to other hubs and websites related to exercise ball workouts, and videos that show how the exercise ball can be used by all skill levels from beginner to advanced. There is a link to Amazon store where an exercise ball, hand weights, videos and related items are sold. Medicine balls can be found too, although I chose not to include them in this hub. See the links below for more hubs about medicine balls.

For moderate to severe depressive symptoms that persist for more than 2 weeks and include depressed mood, crying spells, guilt, sleep and appetite problems, and thoughts of suicide please call your doctor. Depression is one of the most common and most treatable conditions. There is no known benefit to prolonged suffering with depression!

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    • MikeSyrSutton profile image

      MikeSyrSutton 6 years ago from An uncharted galaxy

      Good job telling us how to get fit! Awesome hub!

    • alekhouse profile image

      Nancy Hinchliff 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      Really good hub with lots of helpful information. Thanks

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      Hi. Mike and alekhouse. It's a little easier sometimes to talk ourselves out of fitness, than to actually get fit. I think an exercise ball is a great way to get all the benefits of a workout for only $20 without the time and expense of going to the gym.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Being past my prime, so to speak, I stick to walking for exercise. actually with a new dig in the house who I take out twice a day it is more than enough exercise for my requirements but not enough for hers.

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      that's why I like the exercise ball! I think I played volleyball for my last time this past year. The younger players were too impatient with me. I'm a lot slower than I used to be, have less stamina, and have a hard time keeping my forearms together cause my belly gets in the way! But I'm not past my prime! Just concerned about the younger players! Thanks for commenting dahoglund!

    • profile image

      Tony DeLorger 6 years ago

      Well constructed and researched hub, Kim. I have two depression disorders and I know how important exerciser is. Thanks.

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      Hi Tony. Ah, double depression! I'm glad you already know.....so I hope this was a reminder and not a nag! Thanks for reading and commenting Tony. I really do appreciate it.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 6 years ago

      This is all good Kim Dear. Exercise is important. Food too. I've use the ball too. You've written a great hub as always. You have been so busy! I'll come back soon to see what I've missed. I love your hubs!

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      Thank you Micky Dee. I'm still smiling about Squeaky and Squishy Squirrels! See you soon.

    • vrbmft profile image

      Vernon Bradley 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Another informative hub, Kim. Yes, can't beat the benefits of exercise with respect to depression and anxiety. I walk four plus miles as many mornings a week as I can, and on Sat and sun, I up it to five or six miles. Used to run six every day, but cannot run anymore, and really really miss it. For whatever reason, riding bicycle is boring for me, so I walk and listen to Wayne Dyer instead! I walk really really fast!! Like I just robbed a bank!! I guess I shouldn't write such incriminating stuff!! Want to give you this link. David gets it down to a 2 minute 30 second workout in your bedroom. I used it for several days, and it really gets you going. I had trouble (my age) with the jumpin jacks jarring my back. David suggested pantomine jumping rope instead. Anyhow, check it out

      https://hubpages.com/health/No-Equipment-Required

      Thanks again for a calorie burning hub

      Vern

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      It's funny I almost opened this hub with how I used to run 4 miles 3x/wk and play tennis on alternating days. I decided to cut to the chase. Just as well, we can talk about it here in the comments! I like using a stationary bike when I can watch my heart rate, speed, miles, time, etc. It's one of the few aerobic things I can do that won't hurt my back or legs! You get some good, brisk walking in Vern. That's great! I checked out David's site. Is he your son? I did a modified version of his 2:30 min workout! Good take home message: Focus on what you CAN DO.

    • David R Bradley profile image

      David R Bradley 6 years ago from The Active Side of Infinity

      Yes, focus on what you can do! Exercise is an amazing tool for purging negative energy that arrives in the forms of anger, depression and anxiety. I know from personal experience how exercise can make powerful changes, not only in body, but in mind and spirit as well. My favorite line from this hub was the last one, "There is no known benefit to prolonged suffering with depression!" I rated this up & stumbled it.

    • Jai Warren profile image

      Jai Warren 6 years ago from Dallas, Deep Ellum, Texas

      Great Hub Kim! Your sending out a very positive message... I personally think exercise can and will neutralize many of the negative aspects of our lives (i.e. bad lifestyle habits as well as physical and mental health problems). I love my Swiss ball, use it all the time. But, then I'm an exercise "freak"... 5-6 days a week, cardio or strength training. People who don't exercise are just asking for health problems later in life.

      Really enjoyed this... great advice! Thanks, Ciao.

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      @David. Awesome. Thank you David! Lol. You can quote me on that! "THERE IS NO KNOWN BENEFIT TO PROLONGED SUFFERING WITH DEPRESSION!" by kimh039. I like how your 2:30 min workout hub takes away all the excuses for not exercising. It's very motivating.

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      @Jai Warren. My current job is so sedentary. If I didn't have to go to the restroom, stretch or get a glass of water I could literally not get up or bend or move all day! Some people get plenty of exercise at work and have an active leisure lifestyle too. Sounds like you at least have a very active leisure lifestyle. I'm glad you "get it" about exercise and health. And I'm really glad you stopped by to read and comment! Thanks Jai.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Great information! Thanks for sharing.

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      my pleasure, dallas. thank you for reading and commenting!

    • vrbmft profile image

      Vernon Bradley 6 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Last night, I was searching around to see your 10,000 pages read deal, and I got distracted somewhere, and I guess I was supposed to click on the link to the question, and I can't even remember now where that question or link was posted! BUT ANYWHO, CONGRATS, CONGRATS, CONGRATS. BLOW THE TRUMPETS. DOO DOO DOO DOO DOO DEE DEE DEE DEE!!!

      AWESOME. Your pages read now match the 10,000 things in the Tao ti Ching (spelling?)!!

      Vern

    • kimh039 profile image
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      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      My question was removed by a moderator! It was something like, "I reached 10,000 page views. Where are the fireworks and parade?" The question was removed but the accolade appeared. Thanks for the fireworks and parade Vern! It really was exciting watching the page views approach 10,000 - but I was the only one of my hub buddies who knew and non hub buddies kinda got it, but not completely. 10,000 page views is a lot of views!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 6 years ago from England

      Hi, this is really interesting, I have been intrigued by the exercise balls for a while now, and after watching the video, I think I get how good they are, thanks for the info, I may well just get myself one of these! thanks nell

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      I know, Nell. I thought it was a fad that would pass! Not so. I worked with a trainer this year and she showed me some exercises with the exercise ball and medicine balls, in addition to all the "heavy equipment" in the gym. I decided to get an exercise ball instead of renewing!

    • Benjimester profile image

      Benji Mester 6 years ago from San Diego, California

      I hear ya. Sometimes it's really difficult to get started exercising because, like you said, feeling lack of motivation and depressed is a cycle that feeds off of itself. I've started exercising a lot recently and I feel great. Sometimes I have to fake it, like you mentioned, but I'm finally at the point where I feel guilty if I skip a workout.

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      Your guilt is healthy if it helps you do what's good for you. Unhealthy guilt can fuel that cycle of inactivity. I love all the positive energy I'm getting from the comments on this hub! Keep at it, Benji! Sounds like you're in a good place. Thanks for reading and commenting.....one of your more sedentary activities, I'm sure, but thanks just the same.

    • daydreamer13 profile image

      daydreamer13 6 years ago

      Very informative. Thanks for sharing. Well done.

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      Thank you daydreamer! I appreciate the feedback, and your taking the time to read.

    • Monavie Momentum profile image

      Monavie Momentum 6 years ago from Chicago

      Thanks, great info. I find that as long as I stay on a routine it's becomes easier.

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      Good point. It does seem easier to stay on a routine - consistent time and days, etc. A change in schedule - even if temporary, can be disruptive. So, starting is one thing, staying another obstacle to overcome. Thanks Monavie........keep the momentum!

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      You are surely right. Nothing relieves stress better than good old exercise. Great and needful Hub! Thank you. :)

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      and I have big plans with my exercise ball this week end, James! I've had an especially stress filled week - stress on stress! Love it when you stop by to read and comment James. Thanks.

    • profile image

      kims3003 6 years ago

      very well thought out and well written hub with helpful information and tips. Nicely done!

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      thanks kims. My head is swelling as big as an exercise ball from your kind words. I appreciate your comments.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      A great and informative hub. One way to overcome depression is to go do something for someone else. You can't feel blue when you giving to another person. Thanks for sucha well written hub. Great job!

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 6 years ago

      Thanks vocalcoach. The sad irony with depression is you don't have the desire, drive or motivation to do these things, but if you do them anyway they can help.

    • profile image

      Lyra Carillet 5 years ago

      Exercising is a great tool it makes you feel good mentally, and when you see positive physical changes in your body you feel good about yourself. Beginning is the hard part, but once you start and stay with it, you will notice a big difference in your mentality and outlook on life. Exercising clears the mind, and soothes the soul. Any exercise is great. Even a workout for 15 minutes is great! – just 15 minutes and you will see a difference. Some researchers say that exercise acts like antidepressants in increasing the activity of serotonin and/or norepinephrine in your brain; working out releases endorphins and other hormones that reduce pain, induce euphoria, have a calming effect, and combat stress.

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 5 years ago

      Thanks Lyra Carillet. I've also heard that for some people, exercise is as effective as an antidepressant, and I've known people who walked to manage their pain. And of course pain can lead to depression and depression can lead to pain. The last thing in the world you would feel like doing is exercising, but knowing how much it helps can be motivating. Thanks so much for your comment.

    • parrster profile image

      Richard Parr 5 years ago from Oz

      Off to buy a gym ball I go, Voted up

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 5 years ago

      Ha! That's funny. Let me know how it works. I was thinking that with the season change, I'll be doing less walking and swimming and more exercise balling with hand weights again. My favorite exercise that helps my back a lot is putting the ball on the wall behind you while you do a few reps of 10 squats. Thanks for your comment parrster:)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Great hub Kim! It's so true exercise does work wonders against stress and mood swings. I have the exercise ball but I use it to play catch with my granddaughter, it's a bit big for catch and most of the time I knock her over (she's 5) but it's still fun! I am a push-up girl...when I need to de-stress I drop and give myself 20 and it works everytime! Thanks for sharing this hub! :)

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 5 years ago

      Hi Sunshine625! Thanks. My stress has been much higher than usual the past few weeks, and I am logging many more miles than usual! It's definitely helping. You're your own drill sergeant! I do the exercise ball version of a push up and use hand weights. All this talk about exercise is motivating! Thanks for the pep talk:)

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 5 years ago from South Carolina

      Hi Kim,

      I must have missed this hub. I agree that following an exercise routine is very important.

      I have an exercise ball, but unfortunately I don't use it.

      The only exercise "routine" I've been able to follow on a consistent basis is walking for 45 min. at least 3 to 4 times a week. Walks in nature are particularly invigorating and at the same time, calming.

      Hope all is well with you.

      Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 4 years ago

      Thanks Gail.

      All is well - very busy. Walking for 45 minutes 3-4x/wk is a good routine! I love how I feel after my lunch time walks and can really tell when I miss them. I think it's a combination of exercise and sunlight that is so refreshing.

    • nancynurse profile image

      Nancy McClintock 4 years ago from Southeast USA

      Love your hub. We forget that little bits of exercise can add up. Stretches are great for tense muscles and depression. I linked your hub to one of mine. Thanks for sharing.!!!

    • kimh039 profile image
      Author

      Kim Harris 4 years ago

      Thank you, nancynurse. I now have an electronic gadget that helps me track how many steps and miles I've done each day, and shows how much of the day I've been mildly, moderately or very active..... and how many I've been sedentary. It's a good motivator and reminder to do something for 10 mins or more. Thanks for adding that stretches are also good for tense muscles and depression.

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