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Exercising for depression
Clinical depression is the leading cause of disability in the US for people aged 15-44. It’s more common for women to have depression than men. Drugs are a common treatment and it works for a lot of people. Supplementing drugs with exercise – and for some people exercising alone – can increase response to the drugs and to the body’s own ability to access endorphins.
Taking an active role in treatment
Exercise by itself works almost as well as Zoloft or other prescription antidepressants in relieving depression. This is according to a 2000 Duke University Medical Study. Many patients feel that participating in an exercise program for their depression puts them more in control of the disorder. They have an active role in their outcome. “They have a much better chance of not seeing depression return,” according to Duke University depression researcher and psychologist James Blumenthal.
How to start
Walking. Walking is where it all begins. Take a brisk walk 5 days a week for 30 minutes or more. “Once patients start feeling better, they tend to exercise more, which also boosts their mood,” noted Blumenthal. A Harvard Medical School study showed that 70% of 156 patients found that depression lifted completely when they stuck with this exercise program.
Don’t let the exercise stress you out
Don’t start competing with yourself or with anyone else. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day or you are slow to start. It’s meant to be a good thing, creating energy and lifting spirits. And, be sure to talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. There may be secondary conditions at play which would limit or alter the type of exercise program you adopt.
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