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Exercise and Depression

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A recent article in Time magazine expounds upon the benefits of exercise on depression.

In a business which costs Americans approximately $10million each year, a new solution is more than needed.

Why such a demand for antidepressants?

We, as human beings (and more so as inhabitants of the “Western world”) are meant to have reached the pinnacle of all aspects of life?

Right?

Maybe not?

Maybe we are too materialistic…?

The article describes how psychologist Jasper Smits is using an “unorthodox” method of treating anxiety and mood disorders (including depression) – he’s using exercise, more specifically, aerobic/cardiovascular forms of exercise.

Now I don’t know about yourselves, but I always thought that this was somewhat common knowledge, if you’re feeling a bit down or even on the brink of mild depression, exercise was the key to combating such a state.

It makes complete sense when one considers only some of the side-effects of taking antidepressants, such as:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Fluctuation in body weight

Many studies and experiments have shown the benefits of exercise on regulating and promoting endorphins (feel-good hormones), specifically, serotonin and norepinephrine.

In 1999, researchers at Duke University demonstrated that depressed adults who participated in an aerobic-exercise plan improved as much as those on antidepressants!

Subsequent studies have complemented these findings.

More recently, neuroscience professor Philip Holmes and colleagues have shown that exercise, over several weeks, can “switch on” certain genes that increase galanin, a peptide neurotransmitter found in the brain that helps control stress by regulating another hormone, norepinephrine.

Talking from experience, there have been times where I have stopped exercising during very busy periods of my life (not an excuse!) and as a result, my ability to handle and maintain a strong mental composure to stressful events has been relatively less than optimal, at the best of times!

I guess such studies show that being active (generally) is more preferred than being sedentary.

There are of course cases where such an approach will not help resolve/cure the condition.

I have always found that exercising has helped me to be more optimistic and proactive, especially when I have been consistently following a plan for a period of time.

Muscular activity also helps activate the movement of lymphatic “rubbish” and hence allows your body to detox and cleanse itself and become less “sluggish”!

What are your experiences?  Do you agree with these studies?  Have you overcome the “blues” another way?

Please comment and lets us know below.

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