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March 18, 2015

Exercise and Depression

I'm between jobs right now, and frankly, the situation has me feeling depressed. But rather than moping around, I've decided to focus on things in my life that I can control, such as my health. I also have a hefty "to do" list: you know the kind, all those things you know need to get done, but you put them off .... How often in our lives do we get a block of time to get around to nagging projects without having to take personal time from work, or spend precious weekends attending to them? But when people are depressed, motivation can be hard to come by. The solution: exercise.

Mental health experts have long been aware that even mild, repeated stress can contribute to the development of depression and other mood disorders in animals and people. Scientists have also known that exercise seems to cushion against depression. Working out somehow makes people and animals emotionally resilient, studies have shown.

The evidence is clear that exercise helps with depression. From professional medical sites such as WebMD and Mayo Clinic, to psychology sources to the Cochrane Research Database, ample literature supports the benefits of exercise in warding off and preventing depression. And we're not talking about just depressed mood, but major depression. The one thing an individual can do to improve their mental health is to exercise.

What is Mental health:
“State of successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and the ability to adapt to change and to cope
with adversity.”—USHDDS, 1994, p. 4

I have to admit, getting out and running has helped to lift me out of the doldrums. Being side-lined from training put me back in temporarily because I was not able to engage in exercise at the level I needed to combat depression. But now that I'm back in the game, my motivation has improved again. Heck, I've even been motivated to resurrect this blog! And I feel good about myself for taking charge of my health and getting moving. The success of exercise builds on itself - the better you feel, the more you want to do to keep feeling better.

Exercise does not require special equipment or expense. You can simply use the weight of your body for adequate resistance training. Walking to get the blood moving is the safest, most effective cardiovascular exercise. And stretching, especially after a workout, is helpful in recuperating following an exercise routine and maintains flexibility. To reduce depression, follow general public health guidelines, which recommend at least 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise five days a week as well as two days of strength training each week. Of course, if you have any medical conditions, it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program so that you can do so safely.

Posted by linda at March 18, 2015 8:55 AM

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