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Fitness Tip#300 - January 25, 2013

Friday, January 25, 2013

Can Exercise Help Treat Depression?

If you suffer from depression, your doctor may prescribe one or more treatments, generally medication and psychotherapy. Medication comes with a host of unpleasant side effects and is not a permanent cure for depression, although it may help alleviate your symptoms. Although it's not a substitute for conventional medical treatment, exercise may provide similar benefits to psychotherapy and medication therapy.

While everyone experiences different symptoms, some common symptoms of these disorders include an overall feeling of sadness, worthlessness, being frequently tearful, a lack of interest in activities you previously enjoyed, appetite and sleep changes and irritability.

Depression is considered to have several possible causes. One theory is that depression occurs due to an imbalance in certain mood-regulating chemicals in your brain. Conventional medical treatments for depression typically involve antidepressant medications that work to regulate the amount of these neurotransmitters, namely serotonin, norepinephrine and/or dopamine, in your brain. Other possible factors include early childhood trauma, social, psychological and environmental issues or genetics. In many cases, psychotherapy is recommended to help uncover underlying or unresolved issues that may be causing the depression. Alternative treatments that may help include biofeedback, herbs, acupuncture, massage therapy, tai chi and yoga.

How Exercise Can Help
Regular physical activity promotes the production of the same mood-regulating neurotransmitters that are also increased by antidepressant medications. Additionally, exercise reduces certain immune system chemicals that can make depression worse. Exercise tends to increase your sense of self-esteem, promotes a positive mood and encourages restful sleep. Furthermore, some types of exercise involve social interaction, such as team sports or going to a gym. This can decrease the feelings of social isolation that are common to many depressed people.

Types of Exercise
The type of exercise is not as important as the frequency and duration of the exercise. Depression symptoms can be dramatically reduced by engaging in physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, three to five days a week. However, doing smaller amounts of activity can also help, especially if you perform high-intensity exercises like running or biking. The most important thing to consider when choosing an exercise program is to pick something you think you'd enjoy, because you'll be more likely to want to stick with it.

Have a great weekend!

Next week it is time for me to "DIG DEEPER"! My last weekend to rest with a workout emoticon


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