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Depression Relief Found With Regular Exercise

Aug 17, 2007
Most of us recognize the benefits we can expect from exercise. Engaging in regular exercise, including both cardiovascular and resistance workouts, brings such benefits as lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, stronger bones, improved balance, a lower risk of some cancers and of course weight loss. One bonus that is often overlooked, however, is how exercise can improve our mental health.

Baesd upon solid research, exercise has proven to be an effective alternative to medication for people who suffer from depression.

More that 17 million American adults are diagnosed with depression each year, but there are many more that suffer occasional bouts of 'feeling down' and are not diagnosed.

You might be depressed if you have feelings of anxiety, are sad or have 'empty' feelings, lack the motivation for ordinary activities, experience sleep problems including fatigue, insomnia or oversleeping, have eating disorders, feel worthless or have frequent thoughts of death.

The good news is that not everyone who suffers from depression needs to be on antidepressants. Exercise may be a solution for those who wish to fight depression without medication. Duke University Medical Center published a study on the effects exercise has on depression. The 16-week study showed similar results for the group that took medication as the group that exercised.

A third group that combined exercise with medication showed the greatest improvement.

To reap the depression-fighting benefits of exercise, you don't need to spend hours in the gym, either. Even small amounts of exercise will release the endorphins that make us feel better. Develop an exercise plan while you are not feeling depressed and you will have a much better chance of keeping it up than trying to motivate yourself to start an exercise plan after you're already depressed.

Women are two to three times more likely than men to suffer from depression, with one in five women experiencing major depression in her lifetime.

Stacy, a young mom from Nampa and Pick Up The Pace health club member, said "Last winter, during the inversion I really suffered. I couldn't even get motivated to clean my house or cook a decent meal. I was on the verge of having to get a prescription. I started exercising regularly and this winter I sailed through the inversion with no problem."

Margaret, who recently lost her husband, has discovered that exercise is better than grief therapy. "It's a lot cheaper than seeing a therapist and I'm doing something good for my body. Sitting at home crying every day is not an option. I still grieve, but now I have the energy and motivation to do something else with my days."

Before starting beginning any exercise plan, consult with your physician. Do not discontinue any prescribed mediation without consulting with your physician.

For more information, contact:
The National Mental Health Association Resources Center, 1-800-969-NMHA (6642)
About the Author
This article brought to you by Women Health Articles, a library of free articles on diet and fitness. Features a wide variety of nutrition articles, weight loss education articles, current health articles, fitness articles, and articles on obesity. Please visit http://www.womenhealtharticles.com/ for more information.
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