Head to the gym to head off depression

Just 10 minutes a day can keep depression away.

Vigorous evidence suggests that regularly exercising for as little as an hour a week can prevent future cases of depression – one Norwegian study concludes that exercise could ultimately lower the risk of depression by 12% – and it doesn’t have to be intense physical activity. In that particular study, participants who said they didn’t exercise at the study’s start were 44% more likely to become depressed over the next decade as they were followed by the researchers, compared to those who got in an hour or two of physical activity per week.

There is already good evidence showing that physical activity can boost mental health through its social and physical benefits, especially as we age. Many report that it can even replace medication for some chronic mental health conditions, including mild to moderate depression, anxiety and even dementia.

clinical exercise psychologist Sara Hodson

Exercise is equally as effective as anti-depressant medications for mild to moderate depression, says clinical exercise psychologist Sara Hodson: “I call it the super drug, impacting all aspects of our mental health and life. Exercise improves our sleep, mood, self-confidence, blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, cancer, and prevents chronic disease.”

And exercise has no nasty side effects! Anti-depressants have many commonly-experienced side effects: weight gain, loss of libido, digestive problems, headaches, dry mouth, nausea, and more, adds Hodson, founder and president of Live Well Exercise Clinic, leading-edge medical fitness clinics offering supervised exercise programs to treat chronic disease.

“We have many members who came to us suffering from depression and anxiety who have been able to reduce or get off anti-depressants and get their lives back on track via regular exercise,” says the B.C.-based fitness entrepreneur at livewellclinic.ca., adding that research shows that active people tend to be less depressed than inactive people and that exercise should be considered as an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression.

The good news is that we don’t have to work out very hard to see mood-boosting benefits from our exercise routine, she says. “It’s just important get our bodies moving. Even a light to moderate effort is enough. Even 10 minutes!”

Exercise is the best medicine and it has given Ted Myrah a new lease on life. Suffering from major depression, the formerly sedentary accountant from B.C. also suffered from Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea.

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His depression is now in remission, and although he is still on a mild dose of depression meds, Myrah credits regular exercise with his mental health boost and better health. “Both my energy and mood have improved considerably… I am the fittest and healthiest I’ve been in my life.”

Dr. Darren Ezer treats chronic pain, and sees many patients who struggle with mental health, as depression and pain are closely related. “Depression is also common in people who have pain linked to a health condition, such as heart disease and diabetes. Seen as exercise has been shown to improve outcomes for all of these conditions, I recommend exercise to all of my patients.”

Meanwhile, what’s going on with all this anxiety/depression? “Four percent of Americans suffered a mental disorder in 1980, whereas today, almost 50% of the population has experienced some form of mental illness,” says Ezer, a Toronto-based physician and co-owner of Live Well Exercise Clinic Yorkdale.

Mental illness is believed to be a result of the interaction of genetic, environmental, and social elements, says Ezer, adding that contributing factors may be increased awareness about mental health.

Adds Hodson: Research has shown us that people are more depressed after interacting with social media platforms. We know that the more social networks a teen or young adult uses, the more likely they are to report anxiety or depression.

STATS

  • By age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness.
  • In any given year, one in five people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.
  • Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives.
  • Anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population, causing mild to severe impairment.

– Stats from CAMH

Dr. Darren Ezer, co-owner, LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic Yorkdale

GET ON  TRACK

Get your mental health on track with tips from Dr. Darren Ezer, partner of Live Well Exercise Clinic Yorkdale in Toronto

  • – Set SMART goals: Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and have a time frame. Setting small attainable goals can help boost your mental health and well-being
  • – Aim to exercise for a minimum of 10 minutes continuously on a daily basis, and accumulate a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise in a given day.
  • – Schedule time for yourself everyday, for a minimum of 20 minutes, to do something you enjoy
  • – Have a sleep schedule and aim to get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Leave electronics out of the bedroom and reserve the bedroom for sleep only. Sleep deprivation can impair our ability to think clearly and contributes to symptoms of depression.
  • – Counter negative thoughts with positive ones, and don’t get bogged down with thoughts that are not productive.

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Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies

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