“I wanted to exercise for my mental health”: Turning to exercise to keep depression at bay

CBS News Colorado Live May is Mental Health Awareness Month. A time when we all…

CBS News Colorado


May is Mental Health Awareness Month. A time when we all should be taking stock of how we’re doing, and developing some mental wellness practices.

Mary Ellen Peterson found relief with exercise. She has a standing appointment at the YMCA Metro Denver, working out twice a week with a trainer.

“When I came to the Y here, I immediately just felt very much at home,” Peterson said.



Peterson moved to Colorado right at the beginning of the pandemic, March 2020. She had no friends, no family and felt deeply isolated and lonely.

“It really wasn’t good for my mental health because I felt myself slipping back into a depression,” she told CBS News Colorado.

That’s when she joined the Y and started working with Amy.

“I was really truthful with her and honest about wanting to improve my mental health through exercise,” Peterson said.

“I was honored that she was open in sharing her personal experience with me,” said Amy Ventura, Senior Manager for Community Wellbeing at YMCA Metro Denver.



Exercise is a proven mood booster, and Ventura would like to see it used more regularly in the treatment of anxiety and depression. She’s happy to tailor her workouts to ease the mind.

“Sometimes when we feel like moving the least, that’s when we need it the most,” Ventura said.

“I find that every time I workout, I walk away thinking, ‘Um, this is good. I feel good now,'” Peterson said.

Peterson says her regular exercise routine as definitely improved her mental health and kept the depression at bay.

LINK: Learn more about YMCA Metro Denver