Move towards happiness: New research reveals the astonishing impact of minimal exercise on depression

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exercise-helps-combat-depression(NaturalHealth365)  Over 260 million people worldwide are currently grappling with depression, and that’s truly alarming.  In the United States and abroad, depression ranks as the leading cause of disability.  In the U.S. alone, around 18 million adults have experienced at least one major depressive episode.  But what’s even more concerning is the high rate of major depressive episodes among tweens and teens, making up nearly 15% of all cases.

Considering these statistics, it’s essential to explore alternative solutions beyond relying solely on Big Pharma medications.  Could increased physical activity be the panacea for our nation’s growing depression problem?  It’s worth contemplating how such a simple yet powerful change might make a difference.

Combat depression with exercise instead of popping Big Pharma’s pills

There’s been some controversy surrounding the claim that exercise might be a more effective treatment for depression compared to antidepressants.  However, solid evidence supports this notion.  A recent long-term study conducted in Ireland focusing on aging found compelling evidence that physical activity can significantly reduce the risk of depression.

Over the course of a decade, the study followed more than 4,000 adults, with slightly under 55% of them being women, and their average age was 61.  The data collection began in the fall of 2009 and continued until the winter of 2018.  The researchers then carefully analyzed the gathered data in the summer of 2022.  The results shed light on the potential power of exercise in combating depression.

The study’s findings provide valuable insights into the link between inactivity and depression

The study’s findings highlight a significant connection between moderate to vigorous physical activity and a lower risk of depression in older adults.  As we age, the impact of depression becomes even more harmful, particularly for those aged 50 and above, as they face a higher risk of cognitive dysfunction, loneliness, and osteoporosis.

The study observed that participants who engaged in 400 to 600 metabolic equivalent tasks (METs) per week experienced a 16% reduction in depressive symptoms and an impressive 43% reduction in depression itself.  Even individuals with chronic diseases who engaged in 600 to 1,200 METs per week enjoyed an 8% reduction in depression rates.  Inactivity, on the other hand, was associated with higher odds of depression.

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While the findings are promising, there are still lingering questions about the impact of exercise duration and frequency.  Future studies are likely to delve into these aspects to provide additional clarity on how exercise can effectively combat depression in older adults.  But, we do already know that 30 – 60 minutes / day, 3 – 5 times per week is a great habit to create.

Why is exercise so important for mental health?

Physical activity has a fantastic impact on our body and mind.  When we exercise, it increases blood flow to the brain and activates the HPA axis (the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis), which is responsible for managing our stress responses.  This improved blood flow not only uplifts our mood and inspires us but also helps us better cope with stressors in our lives.

But here’s the best part – exercise releases endorphins, those wonderful natural chemicals that act as painkillers and stress relievers.  So, when you get moving, you’re not only boosting your brain’s function and mood, but you’re also giving yourself a much-needed dose of relief from pain and stress.

There is no single best exercise for battling depression

When it comes to combating depression, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all exercise.  The good news is that any type of exercise can be helpful in your battle against depression.  Whether it’s going for a walk, hitting the gym, or doing yoga, each form of physical activity contributes to improving your mood.  Bottom line, for best results, any form of exercise is great, when done consistently.

If you have the chance, try to exercise outdoors to soak up the sunshine and enjoy the refreshing air.  A combination of cardiovascular exercise and resistance training, done at least twice a week, along with a healthy organic diet, can greatly aid in overcoming depression.

For even better results, consider exercising with others.  Joining a health club or finding a workout buddy can be a fantastic way to stay motivated and feel connected, especially if you’re looking to conquer depression and enhance your overall well-being.  Remember, you’re not alone in this journey, and every step you take toward physical activity is a step closer to beating depression.

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