Mother Earth Living

Natural Health

Better living through nature

Add to My MSN

Treating Depression Naturally: Combat Depression with Exercise

12/15/2010 12:23:09 PM

Tags: natural health, mental health, depression, exercise, seasonal affective disorder, SAD, TLC, Therapeutic Lifestyle Change

I feel like every time I turn around, someone is touting the many benefits of exercise—just 30 minutes of moderate activity a day is supposed to lower the risk of breast cancer, raise levels of good cholesterol and cut your risk for developing heart disease.

Physical exercise benefits more than just the body. Aerobic activity can help improve memory and mood and has been shown through countless studies to have a positive effect on depression. Exercising releases endorphins, a feel-good brain chemical with morphine-like qualities, as well regulates neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine, brain chemicals that are lowered during depression.

yoga women 
If energy and motivation are obstacles to starting an exercsie routine, begin with a less intense exercise, such as yoga. Photo By lululemon athletica/Courtesy Flickr. 

While exercise provides an immediate boost to our mood, maintaining a consistent exercise routine has long-term positive effects on brain chemistry. Scientists at the University of Georgia discovered that a few weeks of exercise activated genes that control the brain’s level of galanin, a neurotransmitter that controls the body’s response to stress by releasing norepinephrine. The researchers concluded that exercise makes the brain more resistant to stress—which in turn can help us manage our emotions better.

Because exercising requires energy and motivation—elements distinctly lacking in those suffering from depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder—it can be one of the most difficult lifestyle changes to make as part of the TLC program. Traditional forms of exercise, such as hopping on a treadmill or lifting weights, leave little to look forward to, making it difficult to keep up with an exercise routine.

bicycle enthusiasts
Finding an activity that you're passionate about and asking friends to join you will help you stick with an exercise routine. Photo By Katie Harris/Courtesy Flickr.

The key to making exercise work as part of your lifestyle is to match it to your needs—in terms of both time and personality. If an elliptical machine isn’t your style, find a form of exercise that is! Enroll in a dance class, take kick boxing lessons, join an intramural sports league or swim laps—whatever fits your personality. Adding a social element to your exercise routine can also help you stick with it. (Social time is also a key component of the TLC program). Bringing friends into the mix will keep you accountable to a schedule—as well as turn exercising from a chore into something to look forward to. If low energy is the biggest obstacle for you, start with a less intensive (and therefore less daunting) form of exercise such as yoga. For an added mental boost, take your exercise outside. Fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for the spirit, and recent research has shown that exercising outside provides more mental benefits than exercising inside.

Remember: Exercising is not a cure-all for depression but one component of the TLC program’s natural approach to treating depression. Depression is a chronic illness; if you think you may have depression, please consult your doctor.

Read the original post, “Treating Depression Naturally: The Therapeutic Lifestyle Change Program.”

 



Related Content

Exercising Outside Makes You Happier

Exercising outside, close to nature, makes you happier than exercising inside, according to a study ...

Improve Your Mood: 5 Habits to Make You Feel Happier

Banish bad moods by eating right, exercising and changing your daily habits. Follow these five steps...

Starting an Exercise Program 101

Starting an exercise program isn't as tough as you think! Just follow these simple tips to get movin...

Treating Depression Naturally: Find Social Support

Seeking out social support, whether from friends and family, a support group or talk therapy, can he...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 



Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.