15 Feb Walking Away Depression
Depression is one of the most common mental health problems in the United States, impacting the health and wellness of millions of Americans daily. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 6.7% of all adults aged 18 and older have experienced a major depressive episode within the past year, while countless others suffer from the effects of mild to moderate depression, including Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Drug-Free Treatment Options
Thankfully, a wide variety of treatment options are available to those who suffer the often-debilitating health effects of depression, such as weight problems, a weakened immune system, and hypersensitivity to pain. These treatments include psychotherapy (counseling), prescription medications, and increasingly, a prescription to exercise.
Experts have discovered that for many people, regular physical activity can be just as effective as anti-depressant medications, and in some cases, the long-term positive effects of exercise last much longer than the effects of medications.
Exercise Boosts Production of Feel-Good Chemicals
Physical activity promotes the release of endorphins – naturally occurring painkillers that are effective in helping maintain good health and wellness. These endorphins help offset the negative impact of stress, anxiety and depression by decreasing tension in the body, leading to better sleep, improved cognitive functioning and a more positive, upbeat outlook on life.
In addition to increasing endorphins, exercise has been positively linked to an increase in serotonin, an anti-depressive neurotransmitter that is found throughout the central nervous system. Many drugs used to treat depression are designed to improve serotonin uptake within the body, making exercising a viable drug-free alternative for many people who might otherwise require prescription medications to manage their mild to moderate depression.
Walk Your Way To Wellness
While researchers continue to study the connection between exercise and depression, most experts agree that a brisk 35-minute walk, five times per week, provides optimal results for people who want to combat the health effects of depression. Alternatively, a longer, 60-minute walk, three times per week, had the same positive impact.
Of course, if walking isn’t your favorite activity, you can enjoy the anti-depressive effects of whatever exercise you prefer, including team sports, cycling, jogging or even dancing! As long as the exercise is done for at least 150 minutes per week, you’ll enjoy noticeable changes in your overall health and wellness!
If you are suffering from depression, talk with your primary health care provider about your treatment options, including using all-natural, drug-free exercise as a way to improve your mental health and physical wellness.