Depression After Exercise (A complete guide)

In this brief guide, we will be discussing depression after exercise, effects of exercise, depression, related disorders and frequently asked questions about the subject.

It is commonly believed and cited that exercise promotes better health including improvement in one’s mental state. After working out, a person is likely to feel restored, energized and light. However, for some, this is not always the case.

Despite many forms of exercises, there are routines that work better for others than the usual. Some do anaerobic routines such as HIIT, cardio, calisthenics, heavy weight lifting and sprinting, while others do aerobic exercises such as walking, rowing, swimming, skating and biking.

Workout experience may vary from one person to another. Each of us do workout depending on how much our body can do. It may also depend on our medical conditions.

But for some, exercising may not only be physically exhausting, but also psychologically draining.

Can a person get depressed after exercising? 

Yes, they can. We can experience symptoms of depression post-exercise because of its effect in our body. Although it is commonly cited and believed that exercising can help improve our mood and boost our immune system, for others, it may exacerbate their psychological state rather than better it. 

Benefits of Exercise

For most people, workout is the most common recommendation for any diseases, be it physical or mental.

Below are the commonly known benefits of exercise:

–          Controls weight

–          Combats health conditions and diseases

–          Improves mood

–          Restores and/or boosts energy

–          Better sleep

–          Better sex life

–          Better connection with others

–          Lower blood pressure

–          Improve joint pain and stiffness

–          Boosts immune system

–          Better memory and brain function across ages

–          Reduce risk of heart disease

–          Reduce risk of cancer

–          Strengthens bones and muscles

–          Help manage insulin and blood sugar levels

–          Faster recovery from being hospitalized or bed rest

–          Reduce risk of heart attack

–          Relieves stress

–          Better quality of life

–          May add years to one’s life

–          Reduce risk of depression

–          Reduce risk of anxiety

–          Increase in self-esteem

–          Resilience

These are a number of benefits people can benefit from exercise. With adequate exercise associated with healthy diet, these can be achieved. Maybe not all at the same time, but better to gain something than nothing.

Negative effects of working out

If you feel pain, stop or take a pause.

Pain alerts the body if too much effort and energy has been executed when working out. This may lead to injury. Localized pain should be consulted with a doctor. However, pain on a certain part of the body does not necessarily call to stop working out. You may continue exercising other parts of the body you do not experience pain. However, it is important to listen to your body and be mindful of what signal it sends you. 

Persistently feeling weak or dizzy is not normal

Dizzines or feeling exhausted after exercising is normal, but it should not persist. Changing positions or doing new routines may make a person feel weak or light-headed, especially for beginners or individuals who has not exercised for a long time.

Diet should also be considered. Working out with an empty stomach works for others, and to some it is otherwise. Feeling light-headed is similar to quickly standing up after sitting or lying down. This is because your body recalibrates or readjusts its state caused by sudden movements.  

Working out might make you sick often

Exercise should help a person feel energized instead of exhausted. Exercise has a lot of benefits as commonly known. However, overdoing it might backfire and make a person sick. In between workout routines, rest should be observed. It is not advised to workout in long hours and heavily every day. Give your body time to rest as progress occurs when we are restored.

However, too much exercise might drop your body’s immunity due to exhaustion, making a person susceptible of illness. Getting sick constantly should be enough to reevaluate and rethink your workout routine including your diet. Excess stress will also significantly affect one’s mood that may lead to maladaptive physiology.

Disturbance in sleep

Overdoing workout might cause impairment in your sympathetic nervous system’s (SNS) functioning and this can result to disturbance in sleep such as insomnia. Overarching SNS is associated with anaerobic activities such as sprinting, cardio, highly intensive interval training (HIIT), and weight lifting, calisthenics, box jumps and jogging.

However, meditation, massage and gentle yoga might benefit for individuals with signs of overarching SNS.


Feeling extremely exhausted after hitting the gym or working out calls for scaling back. Getting sore muscles are common, particularly with new workout routines. However, excess fatigue might result to still feeling tired despite adequate sleep.

Iron deficiency may also be a result of overfatigue, especially in women. Since women lose blood during menstruation, they are likely at risk of iron deficiency. Dizziness might occur due to the lack of oxygen transport. Low production of iron causes weakness and/or overfatigue.

Lack of calories before and after workout is alco a common reason. Our need for food must adapt to the activities we do.

Loss of appetite

Exercising in a high level can suppress appetite. When your body gets tired and its energy is all used up, your brain will eventually signal you to eat. However, this is not always the case. For example, many athletes follow hunger cues to identify the amount of food they will eat.

But as training is longer and become higher than the previous, appetite may become suppressed. That is why it is important to fill up your body with the nutrients and energy it needs by eating right and well.

Depression or significant mood swings.

Too much exercise can cause mood changes. Exercising and sweating releases endorphins in our body. This is commonly known as the feel-good hormones that relaxes our system and alleviate stress. However, overdoing exercise might lead to depression and even anxiety.

Overtraining syndrome is a condition that affects an athlete’s physical and mental health. Female athlete can experience this worse. Mental states from this condition includes fatigue, irritability, anxiety, depression, loss of motivation and vigor, and difficulty concentrating.

Fluctuation in resting heart rate

Overdoing workout mighty lead to fluctuation of the heart rate at rest. Our heart rate varies every now and then depending on what we are doing, thinking and feeling. Our resting heart rate’s tendency is to be stable from day to day. It ranges between 60 and 90 beats per minute.

However, variability in heart rate, especially for regular exercisers may be a manifestation of overtraining.

Persistent muscle aches may be a sign of injury

Muscle sores are normal and common after workout, especially for beginners and whenever there are changes in routine. However, it should not last longer than usual. Muscles soring are signs or growth from getting micro-tears from working out, but if you consistently feel like your muscles or tearing due to constantly tearing the muscles, you may begin to experience constantly feeling sore.  

These are the few negative affects of exercising. When we workout, it is important to reevaluate, assess and be mindful of our goals why we started. Having the inappropriate mindset, rigid and unrealistic expectations about workout might increase the risk of its negative effect.  

It is also good to plan our workout routines and schedules, meal plan or even have a workout/accountability buddy or group to make the exercise less exhausting and become a more fun experience for us.

Ways to move forward with the challenges of exercise

–          Start small

–          Schedule your workout that best fits your schedule and lifestyle

–          Do workout routines that will not bore you or an activity you are interested

–          Be comfortable

–          Make it fun by socializing with other you workout with or people you meet while you workout

–          Reward yourself

–          Workout can also be done indoors with chores like cleaning the garage or mowing the lawn.

–          Use the stairs instead of the lift or escalator.

–          Invite your family and/or your friends to workout with you

–          Be creative!

Doing exercise does not have to be grand or an exhaustive task for you. Just simply taking a small step should help you move forward, or even tell yourself to do just 10 minutes so it does not seem intimidating! Give it a chance. You will never know where it will take you if you take just 10 minutes of your time to workout.

Exercise and Depression

FAQs: Depression After Exercise

Can over exercise cause depression?

Yes, it can. While exercise is widely known to improve our mood by increasing our dopamine which is responsible for mood and pleasure and reward system, this is not the case for all. For others, this may lead to depression, injuries, exhaustion and suicide. As you workout, your adrenal gland may also produce so much cortisol simultaneously.

Why am I in a bad mood after exercise?

Our body release endorphins when we sweat. Endorphins are hormones that are commonly known as feel-good hormones alleviating us from stress and making us feel relaxed. However, overdoing it can spike our cortisol. As sometimes said, too much can be dangerous. If working out is causing you too much pain, irritability and significant feelings of discomfort, take a break. Depression can also be one of the unwanted side effects of excessive workout.

What are the symptoms of over exercising?

Symptoms of over exercising are exhaustion, mood swings or irritability, injuries, trouble sleeping, sore muscles, heavy limbs, inability to perform on the same elevel, needing longer time to rest in between intervals of exercises and being depressed.

Can exercising too much affect your mental health?

Yes, it can. While it is commonly believed that exercise alleviates us from symptoms of depression because of its benefits to our body such as increase in dopamine and hormone working out too much may worsen our mental health. Especially when a person has a history of depression or has symptoms of depression.

Is 2 hours of cardio too much?

Yes, it is. Two hours of cardio can be too much for someone especially for individuals who just had started working out. However, if you are an athlete or has been doing cardio or training for a long time and consistently, your body will most likely be able to move forward with cardio for two hours. Nevertheless, this does not a guarantee that this is healthy. A person should always consult their doctor or work with an expert when executing an exhaustive cardio.  

Also, it is important to give time for your body to rest and restore. Anyway, progress happens when the body is at rest.

Is it normal to cry after exercise?

Yes, it is. Workouts that increase awareness like martial arts and yoga can cause someone to cry. These are mindful exercises that lets us tune into our bodies. Crying after workout may also be because of exhaustion, frustration and introspection.


In this brief guide, we discussed depression after exercise, effects of exercise, depression, related disorders and answered frequently asked questions about the subject.


The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise