S4E18: How to Exorcise Depression and Anxiety with Exercise

Anxiety and depression are common with chronic disease or loss of a loved one. Learn tips on how to find the exercise right for you, set realistic goals, and enjoy the process.

David Gillett talks about the studies that show definite benefits of exercise. He shared in several episodes and blogs about the sudden death of his wife, and told how exercise was a “lifeboat” to cope with the grief and gap in his life. Listen to how it can help you and where to begin.

Redefining exercise

If you were athletic before a debilitating injury or progressive disease, it may be easy to give up on exercise. It may also be hard to fit in a schedule as a caregiver. But remember, exercise has many forms. You can do a lot at home in just 15 minutes. Even aging knees and hips that groan from arthritis will greatly benefit from motion. Get creative!

Exercise for poor mobility

One of the most beneficial exercises for aging individuals is Tai Chi as it peaceful by nature with its slow movements and focus on breathing. It improves flexibility and the body’s proprioception – awareness of where parts of the body are in space – which helps with balance and can in turn prevent falls.

Seated Tai Chi made this beneficial exercise available to nearly everyone. See the video below (and this link for a few more).

This is a good introduction to chair Tai Chi. The instructor makes the steps clear and easy to follow and moves slowly through a variety of gentle Tai Chi exercises. The main instruction starts at 3 minutes is 15 minutes of exercise.

For those of you with a bit more mobility, yoga or even simply using an exercise ball provide similar benefits of improving proprioception and core strength. Below is a video with “beginner” exercises.

The instability of an exercise ball is what makes it good for core strength as muscles are constantly balancing the body’s position. Try just sitting on a ball through the day for some of your tasks and do some deep breathing for an easy way to get a core exercise.

Related Episodes:


A book cover with someone tying a running shoe with the title:
Exercise for Mood and Anxiety - Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-being, By Dr. Michael W. Otto, PHD and Dr. Jasper A.J. Smits, PHD
  • Sephensm T. (1988). Physical activity and mental health in the United States and Canada: Evidence from four popular surveys. Preventive Medicine, 17, 35-47
  • Conn, V.S. (2010). Depressive symptom outcomes of physical activity interventions: Meta-analysis findings. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 39, 128-138
  • Mazure, C.M. (1998). Life stressors as risk factors in depression. Clinical Psychology, Science & Practice, 5, 291-313
  • Coppen, A. (1967). The biochemistry of affective disorders. British Journal of Psychiatry, 113, 1237-1264


  • Exercise for Mood and Anxiety – Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-being, By Dr. Michael W. Otto, PHD and Dr. Jasper A.J. Smits, PHD
    Link to Amazon

The Lost Art of Swedish Funeral Confectionery

Black tissue paper with fringe and a cross-holding saint at its center. COURTESY UPPLANDS MUSEET
Black tissue paper with fringe and a cross-holding saint at its center. COURTESY UPPLANDS MUSEET, from article in Atlas Obscura.

Charlie shares the interesting story about funeral hard candy and its ceremonial significance. The candies were adorned in black and white with intricate images or even figurines. You can read the original article here, from Atlas Obscura.

Recipe of the Week

Marianne as we know is from Detroit, and made a post about the Vernor’s bottling plant. Gretchen wrote, “I can’t stand the stuff to drink it – but we found an AWESOME recipe for Pot roast. I have brought this to family events, and it disappears. It is our go to Sunday dinner that is zero effort.”

Of course Marianne had to ask for the recipe to share with all of you…so here it is!

K.  Gretchen Moorhead Vernor’s Pot Roast

  • 2 cans of Vernor’s Ginger Ale Soda
  • 4–6-pound pot roast
  • garlic and onion powder to taste (cover both sides)
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • couple bay leaves.

Put all in a crock pot – and cook on high for 5-6 hours – it will be fall apart tender. Only add water if the Vernor’s doesn’t cover the meat – but JUST BARELY COVER. And the au jous makes very good gravy.

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