Walking Club Check-In: Walk Away from Depression

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Walking helps to lift your mood.Welcome, or welcome back, to the Dr. Sinatra Walking Club. If you missed the "official introduction," you can see it here. Each Saturday, I post a new Walking Club Check-in, where you can post your minutes walked, the number of times you walked, or miles by leaving a comment.

Here's more good news about walking...

Dr. Sinatra said research has shown physical activity can be just as effective as medication in alleviating the symptoms of depression—and without any side effects, only “side benefits.

The research on exercise and mood includes a study undertaken at the world-famous Cooper Clinic in Dallas, showing that individuals diagnosed with actual depression and who’d normally be put on medication can get the very same benefit from 180 minutes a week of physical activity. In that study, 41 percent of the participants completely reversed their depression in twelve weeks.

How does walking help?
The evidence suggests exercise has a positive effect on certain mood-enhancing neurotransmitters in your brain—and can boost the feel-good endorphins responsible for the “runner’s high.” Plus, movement eases muscle tension, improves sleep, and reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

More recent research has also shown that exercise may actually function as an antidepressant—right in your brain. According to a Yale School of Medicine Report published in Natural Medicine, research in the animal model indicates that exercise boosts the VGF gene in your brain—which is your “exercise-related gene.” In fact, scientists are looking at ways to use that information to create a new antidepressant.

If you have depression, you should consult your doctor. But if you're just temporarily feeling low or blue, take out your walking shoes and get moving!

Now it's your turn:

1. Do you find that walking lifts your spirits?

2. If you walked this week, please share your days, miles, or minutes walked.

Have a wonderful Saturday--and keep on walking!

Karen

Remember to consult your doctor before beginning a new exercise program.
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