According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression today affects 14.8 million adults, approximately 6.7% of the adult population in the U.S. Prozac and other depression medications may be one of the options considered when consulting with a health care provider. However, what you might not know is that exercise is your body’s natural form of Prozac. Clinical Psychologist James Blumenthal from Duke University says that nearly 1/3 of patients suffering from depression do not respond to medication. Likewise, the side effects can be significant, from loss of appetite and uncontrollable shaking to severe confusion and irregular heartbeat.
When we exercise, our body releases endorphins, our body’s natural form of anti-depressants. The body also releases Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that improves overall moods. Serotonin is just one of the chemical messengers that our body releases during exercise. A Duke University Medical Center study found that exercise may be as effective as medication for treating depression. 156 elderly patients diagnosed with depression were divided into three separate groups: exercise, medication, and combination of exercise and medication. What they found was that all groups showed major forms of improvements, demonstrating that exercise can be just as effective alone. While more research needs to be done in this field, taking an alternative option is worth your while.
According to the CDC, adults need 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity along with 2 days of muscle-strengthening activity for important health benefits to be seen. However, if you want to achieve the BEST health benefits, it’s recommended to get 5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity along with 2 days of muscle-strengthening activities. Aerobic activity is what we all know as “cardio,” so, anything that gets your heartrate going. Moderate-intensity aerobic activities include: walking fast, jogging and even biking on an incline. Muscle-strengthening activities are designed to help you tone and work major muscle groups, such as: arms, legs, abdomen and shoulders.
Getting active can be effective in combatting depression, but always talk to your doctor about the plan that is best for you. Exercise not only boosts your mental well-being but also provides a healthier option than taking medications that may cause unpleasant side effects. Before going to traditional medications, why not try something natural and let your body heal itself? Get moving!