These days, women have many choices when it comes to battling depression, from medication to meditation, along with alternative therapies and a little counseling on the side.
But there’s one element that is sometimes overlooked—one that’s simple, affordable and effective, says Dr. Robin Price: Exercise.
In her role at the NorthBay Center for Women’s Health, Dr. Robin Price encounters a fair number of women struggling with depression. They often feel lost and out of control.
Exercise, she says, is a great way to put them back in charge. “Not only does it get their endorphins going, it can even out their moods,” says Dr. Price. “It actually provides focus and helps women realize they have some control over their minds and their bodies.”
Exercise, she cautions, is not an end-all to depression, but it can be a key ingredient in a woman’s treatment plan. Besides, exercise offers great advantages, even for those who are not dealing with depression.
“When you exercise, it’s one of those rare times when you can actually focus on yourself. Our lives are all so busy, and women are so focused on all the things they have to do, from fixing dinner to picking up the kids. It’s important that they make time for themselves.”
Dr. Price is no stranger to the workout. Even in college, she and a group of friends routinely challenged San Francisco’s hilly landscape with a run. And now she’s preparing to participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure event when it comes to San Francisco.
She’s always been active. As a child, she enjoyed track and field, swimming and basketball. She loves being outdoors and recently enjoyed a hike on Mount Tamalpais.
“I’d recommend Mount Tam to anyone who hasn’t been there. It’s not too difficult, and there are lots of trails. It’s just wonderful to take advantage of the Bay Area weather and get outside,” says Dr. Price. “It’s physical exercise, but it’s also a serene environment. You can just detach from the day’s pressure and relax.”
The toughest part, she admits, is finding the time. “You’ve got to make it a priority. Cut out watching a TV show if you have to—or watch TV while you work out.”
Dr. Price wakes up at 4 or 5 most mornings to get her workout at the gym in before her workday begins. She strives to do workouts on both weekend days, and three days a week during the workweek. Her routines include about 50 minutes of aerobic exercise, and another 30 minutes of weight lifting.
“Whatever exercise you decide to do—pick something you love. That way you’ll want to do it,” she advises. “And be flexible. If you can’t get it in today, then shoot for tomorrow. Just don’t give up.”
Tips from Dr. Price
- Change it up. If it starts to get boring, try something new.
- It’s OK to start slow, or to even miss a day.
- If things get rote, try a class.