by Tony Gjokaj September 17, 2021 5 min read

When you're depressed, even when you're not expending a lot of energy... you don't feel like you have any energy to spare to begin with.

It can be aggravating to hear that you need to work out to boost your endorphins, (or whatever your friends say to you).

In reality, they aren't wrong... but how can you exercise if you can't even get out of bed?

Is there something wrong with us?

Absolutely not. This happens with depression.

The thing with depression is that your whole body may feel like it is against you... and it's very frustrating.

I've been there.

But I was forced to work out once I committed to it because of an accountability partner I had.

In this post, we are going to go over some ways that may help you get off the couch when your mind & body are against you.

Before you read, you can watch a brief summary of this post here:

We will start this off with how the brain operates and how exercise helps that.

Let's dive in!

Neuroscience: Why You Should Exercise

Research has shown that regular exercise can be a preventative and a relief option for depression.

Exercise helps the brain by improving three pathways or systems: Serotonin, Dopamine, and Norepinephrine.

Serotonin regulates mood.

Dopamine motivates us in the pursuit of reward or pleasure.

Norepinephrine helps with alertness and activity.

While exercise aids these pathways, people who are severely depressed typically have no desire or energy to exercise.

Essentially, their serotonin, dopamine, and/or norepinephrine levels are low.

To help with this, the following tips or strategies should be used as tools in your arsenal.

While exercise can help and maybe treat symptoms in some, one size definitely doesn't fit all.

Always ask your doctor or mental health specialist about exercise and mental health.

Let's get after it.


Ways To Get Off The Couch & Exercise

I. Accountability Partner

Research done by the Association for Training and Development (ASTD) showed that there is a 95% success rate in accountability to those who schedule a time with someone and report the results.

An accountability partner can play a large part to your success.

For example, you can set something up with a personal trainer where exercise is a non-negotiable. The trainer can create an accountability contract to hold you accountable to your exercise sessions. They can also set a condition where if you don't show up, you owe them money, or something.

Something like this can definitely get you in there.

If you're training with a friend or family member, they need to show up at your doorstep and drag you into the gym if you're not motivated to go.

Have someone who cares about your mental health work out with you.

My mother would drag me to my workout sessions.

II. Make It Simple: 1% Small Steps Every Day.

Start SMALL. Even if it's a 10 minute workout or a brisk walk around the block. Get moving. Then build up on it overtime.

You do not need to do a strict workout program just yet.

Keep it flexible. Just work out and sweat.

III. Reward Yourself After Your Work Out.

One way to stay driven to exercise is to reward yourself after a workout session.

Something like a protein smoothie with various fruits is an amazing post-workout meal based on taste and fulfillment.

Blueberries, strawberries, and bananas.

Blend them with a whey protein shake.


IV. Document Your Journey

Being aware of your progress and growth can build up a lot of momentum.

Record your journey whether in a journal or on social media. While documenting on social media may be intimidating, the right people will eventually find and support you.

Hell, tag us on your journey @thereforged on Instagram and Tik Tok. We want to support you along the way.

V. Motivational Playlist

I like to view motivation like a battery charge and discipline as the battery itself.

While motivation comes and goes, sometimes we need an immediate kick to work out. Watch a motivational playlist or listen to motivational content or music.

This may help you get that immediate push to get going.

I used to watch those bodybuilding motivational clips of buff dudes squatting hundreds of pounds screaming at the top of their lungs. These fired me up.

VI. Make Exercise Or Activity Simple To Start.

Adding to the 1% rule, make exercise simple to start.

Here are a few suggestions that I would recommend:

  • Keep your gym bag and nice clothes on you at all times.
  • Keep your pre-workout on you and take it 10-15 minutes before you workout. The Beta-Alanine tingles will get you FIRED UP.
  • Go outdoor activities. Gardening, Mowing the lawn, or swimming. As silly as it may sound, do some of your chores that get you moving.
  • Pokemon Go it. Play a game that requires physical energy expenditure. Augmented reality or virtual reality games that make you burn some calories are very fun to have. Plus, as video games give a dopamine rush to many, doing one that requires physical activity can help a ton.
  • Calisthenics or Body Weight Circuit Training. If you don't want to exercise publicly, do it in your own hope. Watch a work out video on YouTube that you can go along with.

All in all, just move.

VII. Have A Strong & Supportive Community

Never do it alone.

While this doesn't immediately drive you to work out, having a community of like-minded people pursuing the same goal is a foundation to success.

If you don't have this, we recommend joining our "Fitness For Mental Health" Discord Group. While it is currently small, our goal is to help thousands by using fitness as a holistic way to improve mental health.

You can join it here.


If I can leave one final tip, it's to not be down on yourself if you miss a day.

Just make sure you don't miss two in a row!

Eventually, exercise will become a natural process overtime as it was for me. While it took me a little more than 3 months to get used to working out, I refuse to go back to how I looked and felt in the past.

There is no reason to, especially because year after year, I become happier and more fulfilled.

If anything, this is your call to action.

This may be the start of your journey to be better, to be happier.

Let us continue to help you.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email us at, or direct message us on Instagram.

You can also subscribe to our email list at the bottom of this page to get a free ebook series on fitness and mental health.

Until next time!

Tony Gjokaj
Tony Gjokaj

Tony is the Owner of Reforged Performance Nutrition. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help bridge the gap between physical & mental health through fitness.

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