Antidepressants or running shoes: What’s best for your body and mind when depressed or anxious?

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running-therapy(NaturalHealth365)  It is often said that if scientists found a way to put exercise in pill form, it would be the top-selling product of all time.  Yet, despite remarkable scientific progress, we haven’t managed to encapsulate the full benefits of physical activity into a convenient tablet.

If you’ve spent most of your life choosing the comforts of food and possibly even antidepressants over exercise, don’t feel guilty.  There is still an opportunity to transition to a healthier lifestyle that prominently features running.  As noted in a recent study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, the health benefits of running and lifestyle change have the potential to replace those provided by Big Pharma’s antidepressant pills.

Naturally, as a side note, if you don’t feel like you can “run,” there is plenty of research out there talking about the health benefits of just walking or jogging, at a comfortable pace.  But, for those interested in running (especially if you feel depressed or anxious), you’re really going to like the information you’re about to read.

Running or pills: The surprising showdown for beating depression and anxiety

While it’s a common practice for many to opt for alternatives like video games, the internet, antidepressants, and junk food instead of embracing self-discipline through exercise and a balanced diet, the scientific community only recently undertook a formal comparison of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) – a widely used class of antidepressants – and exercise.

The study involved 141 individuals diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety.  Over a 16-week period, 96 participants chose a running program, while 45 selected SSRIs

The group that elected to receive SSRIs was provided with escitalopram (Lexapro) or sertraline (Zoloft) – two common medications for depression and anxiety.

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Alternatively, the study participants who elected to run did so for 45 minutes outdoors two to three times per week.  This length and frequency of running align with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) public health recommendations.

How running won over Big Pharma for mental and physical health

Rapid advances in science and medicine have paved a path toward a highly medicated society in which everyday people and physicians are quick to turn to Big Pharma creations to improve the human condition.  However, there are downsides to developing Big Pharma dependence.  Notably, many pharmaceutical drugs, including antidepressants, often lead to a host of side effects.

Moreover, the study highlighted above reveals that adopting a healthier lifestyle can be just as effective as pharmaceutical interventions in promoting mental well-being.  These findings underscore the substantial benefits of exercise, both for mental and physical health, prompting some to question the necessity of antidepressants altogether.

It’s important to note that while the study indicates that participants who opted for medication experienced more adverse physical effects, those who chose running faced their own challenges in sustaining the routine.  The bottom line is that taking a pill can seem more convenient than running a mile, especially in less-than-ideal weather or without access to a treadmill or gym.  Naturally, if you’re new to this kind of exercise, we strongly suggest that you get good advice from an experience exercise professional about how to get started safely and effectively.

Run for your life: Here is how to unleash the runner in you

If you’re new to running, paying close attention to your gear is important.  Opt for good quality running shoes, which are specifically designed for this activity, rather than other footwear options.  Start your running journey gradually by commencing with a brisk walk and then transitioning into a light jog.  It’s perfectly normal if you can’t sustain a jog for an extended distance on your initial attempt.  The key is to persist with your jogging routine; over time, you’ll naturally progress to running.

Take a few minutes to warm up before every jog or run, ensuring your muscles are warm and ready.  When running, keep your head upright and looking forward for easier breathing, and don’t be afraid to take breaks as you slowly build up your endurance.  Wait 24 to 48 hours before your next running session, giving your body sufficient time to rest.

And remember, every step you take on your running journey brings you closer to improved physical and mental well-being, making it a worthwhile and rewarding pursuit.  Of course, to help you be more consistent, try to do this activity with someone else that shares your goals.  Remember, have fun and get started today, if this sounds good to you.

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