Exercise—the simple act of moving our bodies and giving our cardiovascular systems a bit of a challenge—is fraught territory in American life. This is largely because we have a fitness industry, as we have industries for everything, and industry tends to cause as many problems as it solves.
“The fitness industry is filled with life-hacks for depression, but most of it seems to be coming from a place of ignorance about the cold war going on in the average depressed person’s head,” writes author Sarah Kurchak in Work It Out: A Mood-Boosting Exercise Guide for People Who Just Want to Lie Down. She tailors her workout guidance to people who are depressed, anxious or have generally had it with “perky fitness types,” offering approaches that are both grounded in science and refreshingly dismissive of well-trodden myths, rules and routines. Pillow fight! Goblet squat your pet! (If they’re cool with it, of course.) I knew I liked Kurchak’s style as soon as I read, “I don’t know anyone who has come out of the North American physical education system unscathed,” and the rest of this funny, helpful book does not disappoint.