by Tony Gjokaj September 08, 2021 3 min read

When I was overweight, I was inactive, depressed, and had insomnia.

I would isolate myself from social interaction, which led me down a dark path where I contemplated suicide.

Eventually, fitness was my salvation, as physical activity led to me sleeping better, eating better, feeling better, and thinking better.

Prior to exercise, I was stuck in what was deemed an Inactivity Trap.

So in this post, we are going to go over an article that was written in 2009 with the same name, called "The Inactivity Trap". This article included studies that supported their claims from a psychological standpoint which intrigued me as well.

So let's dive into what the Inactivity Trap is.

The Inactivity Trap

The author of the Inactivity Trap article argues those who need exercise the most are those with depression.

Depression and physical inactivity have a bi-directional relationship where the following occurs:

  • Physical inactivity leads to depression.
  • Depression leads to physical inactivity. 

This is the Inactivity Trap. Our psyche can be our worst enemy in that our life experiences can impact your motivation to exercise and vice versa.

    Depression As An Evolutionary Response

    From an evolutionary standpoint, scientists have proposed that there was a benefit for depressive symptoms in some individuals in a tribe.

    Based on the Evolutionary Adaptation Hypothesis, depression may have provided a survival advantage as a result of social isolation. Individuals who isolated themselves would encounter less conflict or harm from the tribe.

    In addition to this, a reduced appetite of food and libido led to less competition with others in the tribe. Changes in sleep patterns would also allow depressed individuals to be more active in times where other are not.

    While we some may have used depression in the past as an advantage for survival, depression can be more harmful today.

    You Need Movement

    Depression and physical inactivity in our more sedentary world today can be a silent killer. With isolation comes worsening of depressive symptoms and can lead to contemplation of suicide, self-harm, and more.

    I can personally attest to this if you read my story in our previous post.

    So with that being said, let's explore the various benefits of physical exercise.

    For starters, frequency of exercise can lead to reduced all-cause mortality and minimizing the chance of getting other diseases (such as heart disease).

    Adding to that, exercise can eliminate some bad habits and poor eating choices. For example, exercise can potentially lead to the cessation of smoking. As smoking is used as something to treat stress and anxiety, exercise can fill its place overtime.

    Exercise can also lead to improved cognitive function, such as memory improvements, focus, and more.

    Ultimately, exercise will improve psychological wellbeing, as it reduces stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms.

    Exercise Is Therapy

    To conclude, we wanted to give you some habits and other recommendations that may help you with physical exercise:

    • Commit to 3.5 hours of physical activity weekly. This can be 30 minutes of exercise every day, or one hour sessions 3-5 days per week.
    • If you have trouble committing to that much, start by committing 5-10 minutes per day. When I am not motivated to work out, I just tell myself I am going to do one exercise. Next thing I know I am doing an entire workout. Start by taking small steps in physical activity.
    • Commit to one style of exercise. You can get in great shape physically and mentally with lifting or cardio. I started with circuit training with medicine balls and cardiovascular exercise.
    • If you miss a day, don't quit. Just continue the next day. Don't neglect your exercise on weekends either!

    We hope that this either gave you some insight on the benefits of mental health on physical exercise, or it inspired you to get active.

    If you need more insights on strategies you can utilize to improve your wellbeing, be sure to subscribe to our email list.

    Our latest eBook, Anti-Depress, is included as a free download if you subscribe to our email list.

    If you have any questions or comments, please email us at or message us on Instagram.

    Until next time, Reforged Warrior!

    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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