Exercise is one prescription to treat depression

It seems a dose of exercise may be just the right amount of spring cleaning you need to raise your spirits. Some doctors believe that regular exercise can lift your mood, and even help prevent and improve mild to moderate depression and anxiety.

“Exercise has many amazing benefits. If it was a pill, it would be the best selling pill on the market,” said Dr. Marc Keshishian, chief medical director for Blue Care Network. “Exercise can lead to less depression and people who are depressed feel better after they exercise.” 

Start off slow

You don’t need to run a marathon to reap the mood-related rewards of exercise. Start with a low dose and pick an activity you already enjoy, such as walking, gardening or washing your car. Over time, gradually increase the amount of time you spend doing it.

You can also try new routines, like yoga or tai chi, that practice the art of breathing, strength training and balance. Experts advise getting half an hour to an hour of moderate exercise on all or most days of the week. 

The emotional connection

Move your muscles to distract negative thoughts and motivate your mind to release those feel-good chemicals. Your mood will improve and you’ll notice the effects within minutes. Exercise produces endorphins, which are brain chemicals that boost your mood and help you sleep better. Your heart, lungs and sense of self will thank you for the improvement and reduced feelings of sadness and fear.  

Combine the two

Certainly, medication and cognitive therapy are also effective treatments for mood disorders. The most important thing is to talk with your doctor about the best treatment for you.

Photo credit: Velo Steve

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