The Number One Best Exercise for Depression/Anxiety

Updated: Oct 20, 2021

This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in July of 2021. For the original video go to

Bob: Today, we’re going to talk about the number one best exercise for depression/anxiety.

Brad: They interlock.

Bob: So, we got some research on this and we’re ready to go. Really, when you think about depression, quite often, people are depressed, there’s a lack of movement. They’re within themselves.

Brad: You’re talking about physically, they’re not moving.

Bob: Right, they’re not moving, you can see from their posture. They’re in this huddled type of posture and that means they’re not moving. So really, the opposite is what we’re heading for. We want to get movement of some form. We’re going to talk about different forms of movement and why they might be helpful, but you know, running and even sprinting, if you’re still capable of sprinting. It’s a high intensity interval training.

Brad: Yeah, get into that anaerobic zone.

Bob: When you run on a regular basis, like a steady basis, to me it’s almost like mediation. It reduces food cravings, which is a different bonus too. You get more serotonin, which is a good drug, and you also get some of the endorphins.

Brad: Right, yeah it helps get you in a good mood. I can definitely speak about that. You know, if you’re not a runner, and you don’t plan on running, we have options that will work just as well.

Bob: Lower-level options.

Brad: It’s going to work better for you, but I was a runner. At one point in my life, I was depressed. I was going through a divorce, personal issues, financial issues, coming from every end you know, and I used to run.

Bob: It builds up on you.

Brad: Yeah. I used to run, and I always always felt better when I ran. I used to run two times a day and it was just wonderful. A lot cheaper than going to see a therapist. Literally, I mean, it worked.

Bob: The thing is, with endorphins, you might get some carryover. They may last for an hour afterwards; after you’ve gone running.

Brad: Right, absolutely.

Bob: So, you just feel better about yourself. The other one is biking. Spin classes. The nice thing about spin classes is that you’re in a group too. You’re getting the social aspect of it.

Brad: I did that as well. You can talk to people who are next to you. You can joke around a little bit; forget about things before you get that heart rate up and if you do try a spin class and you’ve never biked before, it’s a little challenging at first. There’s a learning curve so be patient with that.

Bob: Yeah, it’s going to help with anxiety too. Next one is hiking in the woods. We’ve seen many studies on this. Nature. It’s amazing how nature helps heal the body.

Brad: Calm things down. You’re looking at things. You’ve got audible input from the birds and whatnot. You’re watching where you’re going. Make sure you know where you’re going so you don’t get lost because that could cause some anxiety.

Bob: But it’s funny, you know, we saw studies where they compared hiking in the woods to walking in the cities. They are both good but hiking in the woods was obviously better. It was much less stressful and a lot more beneficial.

Brad: Right. You don’t have to worry about cars running you over.

Bob: Right. You don’t have to think about anything. Next one was yoga, and one of the nice things about yoga is they really concentrate on breathing and breathing plays a large role in controlling your anxiety and depression. That vagus nerve they keep talking about, Brad, if you can control that, it’s going to help control the rest of how you feel.

Brad: That vagus nerve, there’s a lot of studies going on in the last few years with the gut and everything else.

Bob: Tai chi, do you really know what it is?

Brad: Well, Tai Chi it’s a martial art form, but it’s done very slowly, you work on your balance, you’re thinking about what you’re doing because some of the poses are very difficult. But it gets your mind to relax and your body. I have not done it. I’ve watched it.

Bob: I have the same thing. I had a friend that did it every lunch hour. It’s nice to do that in a group because you’re going to get that social aspect to it.

Brad: You don’t really talk during it though.

Bob: No, you don’t, but you know what I mean.

Brad: Before and afterwards.

Bob: When you’re part of something. Then we’re going to talk about most of us can do walking. All you need is a pair of comfortable walking shoes and off you go. So, again, you try to look for nature if you can. If you have a park nearby you or something.

Brad: You’ll probably want to walk a little faster. It’s not a real casual walk when you’re looking around. You want to get your heart rate up probably.

Bob: Now this one is, I think, somewhat of the trifecta. Because that means three, Brad, because in this case, you’re actually exercising high level, you’re actually doing it with friends, and you’re out in nature. Golf is my trifecta. I’m walking, I’m with friends and I’m in nature.

Brad: And you’re focusing on the game, thinking about the game.

Bob: Exactly, you’re swearing about the game and you’re going, why am I so bad at this game?

Brad: Why me?

Bob: Ultimate frisbee. You’re sprinting, you’re on a team. You can’t think about anything else besides the game.

Brad: Exactly, Bob.

Bob: Hiking with friends, biking with friends. You’re big on biking.

Brad: Right, I actually like to bike by myself, but I do like to bike with one other person. I don’t like biking in big groups. You have to worry about the person in front of you, the person behind you, traffic is a little bit different to negotiate. So, I do one other person but by myself is fine. I do want to mention that I have a friend of mine, he’s 59 years old and he likes mountain biking. He says it forces you to get your mind focused. When your road biking, your mind can travel but when your mountain biking, you have to watch the trail because you don’t want to wipe out. It’s aerobic. It does everything for him. He’s very happy with it.

Bob: I would just be upset though or depressed once I fall off and break something because I would.

Brad: That is something that requires good judgement.