By Maximilian Angle
Many emotional problems in life can be helped via the use of specific medications. For example, using serotonin enhancement and other similar meds that change the way your brain works in order to feel “regular.” There is no doubt that these medicines make a large difference in the ability for these people to live their lives normally and to their fullest capabilities. However, I believe that this is not the only solution. I feel that there is another, often overlooked treatment, which is the simple inclusion of exercise into one’s daily life. Whether it be cardiovascular training such as a jog or walk, an hour-long yoga class, or heading the gym and lifting some weights, exercising can also change the way that our brain works. It can improve the release of “good-feel” chemicals in the brain such as neurotransmitters, endorphins and endocannabinoids, while reducing immune system chemicals that can intensify depression.
Will a few laps around the track or going to the gym occasionally completely solve your emotional problems? Probably not, but a regular exercise routine can help to a measurable degree. Many studies have shown that exercise can improve the mood of those with mild to moderate depression and also may even play a supporting role in assisting those battling severe forms of depression. Studies support the fact that the positive (anti-depressant) affects from exercising lasts longer than those of antidepressants alone. It has been proven that those who exercise regularly are less likely to relapse back into depression when remaining on a consistent routine.
To help support my point, I personally performed a blind study on 29 individuals that included several questions regarding exercise, such as how often, and if they suffered from depression. I asked just how severe their depression was and how/if exercise had any positive effect on how well they are able to manage it.
The results from the study showed that those who exercised between 3-7 times per week did in fact feel positive effects. Twelve of the participants stated that exercise definitely helped them cope with their depression. Four individuals said their depression lessened during and/or after exercise, while three of the participants actually claimed that exercise fully cured them of their depression. While this small survey does not prove that exercise benefits of those suffering from depression it does support the fact that depression could be lessened with physical exercise. When a person exercises, “feel-good” chemicals are released into the bloodstream automatically creating a great feeling of well-being. I believe that prescribed exercise should be treatment that be looked into and researched more thoroughly as an adjunct, and in some cases even a replacement for medications.