Imagine being crippled by depression, unable to move from your bed for days.
You use whatever is left of your dwindling life force to schedule an appointment with your doctor, who makes you wait three more weeks to come in.
By some miracle, you make it.
Three weeks later, you emerge from the Cheeto dust cloud surrounding your bed and crawl your way into the fluorescent-lit lobby of your stupid doctor, who sees you after you've waited a full 45 minutes.
Then, Doctor Asshat cheerily looks you in your two dead eyes and tells you, "You should try going for a run!"
Just kidding. Doctor Asshat hopefully would hand the person in this fictional scenario an anti-depressant because this is clearly an emergency.
I would know from non-fictional experience.
That being said, if you're feeling blue and it hasn't gotten to the point I described above yet, I hate to tell you that picking up a cardio routine can actually lower your risk of depression.
According to an upcoming study in Preventive Medicine, which included 1,128,290 participants, having a low cardiorespiratory exercise routine is related to a 75 percent higher risk of getting depression, and people with average workout levels have a 23 percent higher risk.
The good news is, the cardio you do doesn't have to be insanely intense.
In another study published in Translational Psychiatry earlier this year, it was discovered that by picking up a minimal cardio and meditation routine, you can lessen your chances of major depressive disorder by as much as 40 percent.
The participants in this study only performed 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity twice a week at a moderate pace.
For the physical component, participants performed aerobic exercise at a moderate intensity for 30 min. Following a 5-min warm-up, participants exercised either on a treadmill or cycle ergometer [...] at a heart rate intensity range determined by their individual baseline fitness assessment[.]
Another study found that when college students increased their cardiovascular physical activity, their ability to self-regulate increased, and they were able to rely on themselves more than on substances.
If all this is too much for you, or you're out of breath just thinking about it, you could always just opt for the meditation portion of the study and get a dog.
Walking a dog is way more fun than running, unless you're a runner.
And if you are a runner, stop bragging. I could barely shower this morning.
We can't all be heroes.
Citations: Longitudinal gains in self-regulation from regular physical exercise. (British Journal of Health Psychology), MAP training: combining meditation and aerobic exercise reduces depression and rumination while enhancing synchronized brain activity (Translational Psychology), Cardio Protects You From Depression, Says Million-Person Study (www.NYMag.com)