Is exercise good for someone who is bipolar?

Ruth White, MPH
Social Work
Exercise has many benefits for everyone, especially for people living with mood disorders. Exercise increases cognitive functioning, fights depression, and improves overall mental health, because exercise releases many brain chemicals that foster feelings of emotional and psychological well-being. One analysis of many studies found a strong link between weight gain and bipolar disorder. Other researchers found that exercise helps counteract the weight gain that's a side effect of many medications for treating bipolar disorder.

For those of us living with bipolar disorder, exercise not only increases the length and quality of sleep but also has a positive impact on depressive symptoms and takes the edge off mania. Another literature review found that patients with mood disorders have an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and that some atypical antipsychotics, such as Zyprexa (olanzapine), increase risk for diabetes and weight gain. Exercise could stave off some of these symptoms related to both the disorder and the medications. However, the ups and downs of bipolar disorder sometimes interfere with our best intentions to keep on track with an exercise program.

How much you move your body often signifies your mood. For example, you may be more active when hypomanic or manic, and less likely to move when depressed. If you make moving your body a part of your daily routine, you may find that, even when you're depressed, exercise may be the one thing you complete that day, which is at least one thing you can feel good about. When you're manic, exercise will take the edge off, release some of your excess energy, and help you concentrate.
Bipolar 101: A Practical Guide to Identifying Triggers, Managing Medications, Coping with Symptoms, and More

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Bipolar 101: A Practical Guide to Identifying Triggers, Managing Medications, Coping with Symptoms, and More

After receiving a bipolar diagnosis, you need clear answers. Bipolar 101 is a straightforward guide to understanding bipolar disorder. It includes all the information you need to control your...
Getting lots of exercise can help a person with bipolar disorder manage his or her symptoms. Following a schedule that includes some physical activity on most days can also help to prevent other conditions common in people with bipolar disorder, including heart disease and diabetes. You do not need too become an Olympic athlete, however, simply taking a 30-minute walk every day can make a big difference. Talk to your doctor about how exercise can help you.
Mark Moronell, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Getting lots of exercise can help a person with bipolar disorder manage his or her symptoms. Following a schedule that includes some physical activity on most days can also help to prevent other conditions common in people with bipolar disorder, including heart disease and diabetes. You don't need to become an Olympic athlete. Simply taking a 30-minute walk every day can make a big difference. Talk to your doctor about how exercise can help you.
Bipolar disorder, formally known as manic-depressive illness, is characterized by a change of polarity from a major depressive episode to a manic episode. From what is known, exercise has positive effects for someone who is bipolar, particularly on the depressive side. The endorphins during exercise could have a calming effect on the manic side of a bipolar episode. Consistent elements of the depressive side are a negative mood and feelings of hopelessness. We all feel depressed from time to time however clinical depression is persistent symptoms for a relatively long time or symptoms that interfere with daily life. Exercise has been shown to reduce depression, even clinical depression. Exercise improves mood and is most effective when performed regularly. People who are mild to moderately depressed experience the greatest reduction of symptoms with exercise. Regular exercise has been found to be comparable in effectiveness to medication and therapy for mild to moderate depression, and exercise is often used in conjunction with these treatments.

Continue Learning about Living With Bipolar Disorder

Living With Bipolar Disorder

Living With Bipolar Disorder

To manage your bipolar disorder on a daily basis, it is essential that your keep your therapy appointments and take your medications as prescribed. If you experience side effects that you find intolerable, discuss them with your d...

octor. It’s also important to live a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, plenty of sleep and a nutritious diet to avoid other health risks associated with bipolar. Take steps to reduce stress and surround yourself with supportive friends and family who can intervene during manic episodes. When it’s well treated, bipolar disorder should not prevent you from having an enjoyable and successful life.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.