Tag Archives: Depression

Ways To Exercise Your Body and Mind

Jenna can burn 300 calories per hour on the elliptical trainer and 530 calories per hour on the stair master at moderate intensity. If she works on the elliptical for 45 minutes and on the stair master for one and a half hours, how long will it take her to burn the calories in a Boston Cream Donut?

While most of us know that exercise is smart for our bodies, we don’t always think of the ways exercise benefits our mind. Maybe we don’t need to use the Pythagorean theorem to determine the distance between our bodies and the floor when we do a push-up, but it is important to acknowledge the positive effects that push-up may be having on our mental well-being. Here are some ways to do just that.

Brain-exercise link

The Brain-Exercise Link
John J. Ratey MD and associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School compares the effects of exercise to “taking a little Prozac or a little Ritalin at just the right moment,” adding, “(Exercise) affects mood, vitality, alertness, and feelings of well-being.”

In fact, MEd Stephen C. Putnam took up canoeing as a way to combat adult ADHD and wrote “Nature’s Ritalin for the Marathon Mind,” a book documenting the benefits of exercise on brain disorders. He cites one study involving children who ran around for 15 to 45 minutes before school and found them to exhibit calm behavior for two to four hours after the exercise, cutting unruly behavior by half.

How Does Exercise Train the Brian
According to Christin Anderson, MS, exercise effects places in the nervous system causing it to send out pleasure chemicals like dopamine and serotonin which leading to happiness and calmness. She says, “When one exercises, one can think more clearly, perform better, and raise morale. This is pure science-stimulate your nervous system and function at a higher level.”

Exercise and Depression
A study cited in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, tested 80 young female and male volunteers for mood and depression. The 52 that were found to be depressed before the exercise reported a decrease in fatigue, anger, and tension and an increase in vigor following the workout.

Another study done at Duke University compared the effects of exercise with antidepressant drugs. The study involved 150 people, 50 of whom had been diagnosed with depression. These people were divided into three groups, one of which was given the antidepressant, Zoloft, another of which were treated with exercise, and the third of which was given a combination of the two. Results found that while all three experienced short-term improvement, the exercise group relapsed at lower rates than the Zoloft and combination groups. in fact, scientists even felt that the Zoloft may have undermined the effects of the exercise, and the combination group may have faired better without the pill.

Exercise as a Brain Trainer
Do you want to try and use exercise to train your brain? If so, try doing low to moderate forms of exercise, as more intense exercise may have less immediate results. Ratey suggests 8 to 12 minutes of perspiration and heavy breathing activity per day for training the mind.

Anderson recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise such as swimming or walking three times a week. “Swim for 20 minutes in the morning, then walk at night,” she advises. “Right after hard, intense exercise, you may not be as acute. Overtraining can set off enzymes that can lead to fatigue, which is the enemy of alertness.” She also cites yoga as a way to improve mental acuity and meditation as an ideal complement to physical activity.

Are you feeling the mental burn? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Let us know how you keep your mind and body fit.

Natural Treatments For Depression

Recently, our nation mourned the loss of Carrie Fisher, known best for her role as the brave and beautiful Princess Leia of the Star Wars Hollywood movie franchise, and maybe almost as well known for maintaining a sense of humor in her ongoing fight against depression. Those who kept apprised of Fisher’s funeral arrangements will know of her request to have her ashes placed in an urn designed to resemble a giant Prozac pill. Fisher made no secret of her reliance on and gratitude for the part the pill played in helping the troubled star fight her emotional demons.

Smiling woman
While some find relief in medication, others may prefer a more natural route or simply want to supplement their prescription medicine with other treatments. Here are some tips that can help you feel better the natural way.

1. Start a Routine
One way depression can affect you is by decomposing the structure in your life. One day seems to turn into the next with little distinguishable difference. Ian Cook, MD and director of the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA, advises his patients to set a daily schedule to help get back on track.

2. Set Goals
Depression often goes hand and hand with feelings of powerlessness. Lack of accomplishment can lower your self-esteem. Setting small goals for yourself may encourage you to do more. Cook advises starting small. “Make your goal something you can succeed at, like doing the dishes every other day.”

3. Exercise
Exercise boosts those natural happy chemicals in your body called endorphins; and the results can have immediate as well as long term effects. According to Cook, regular exercise can even cause the brain to rewire itself in a positive way. Even walking a few times a week can make a difference.

4. Sleep Well
Lack of sleep can be a vicious cycle. Depressing thoughts can make it hard to sleep and getting too little sleep can lead to more depression. Try to improve sleep habits by keeping a regular sleep schedule and taking distractions like the computer and TV out of the bedroom.

Woman eating salad
5. Eat Well
Although there is no “feel good” diet, it’s always a good idea to be mindful of what you eat, especially if you tend to overeat when you’re depressed. Cook says there is evidence that food containing omega-3 acids, like tuna and salmon, and folic acids, like avocado and spinach can be beneficial in warding off depression.

6. Supplements
Cook says, ” There’s promising evidence for certain supplements for depression. Folic acid, SAMe, and fish oil all may be effective in fighting depression. However, more research needs to be done in this area and you should always check with a doctor before starting a supplemental regimen.

7. Try Something New
Changing things up may be a good way to get out of a depressive rut. Cook explains, “When we challenge ourselves to do something different, there are chemical changes in our brain. Trying something new alters the levels of dopamine, which is associated with pleasure, enjoyment and learning.” Pick up a book, or sign up for a class that interests you.

8. Have Fun
The obvious way to fight depression? Enjoy yourself! And, in case you’ve forgotten how to do that, Cook says, it’s “just a symptom of depression” and you need to fight it off. Try to plan things you used to enjoy, like going out with friends. Who knows? Life may start to feel fun again!

How do you keep the doldrums away? Let us know! We love to hear it!