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Don’t Worry–Be Hoppy

Mar 4, 2016 | Health and Fitness

Peach the dogThat’s right.  Be hoppy—exercise.  You know that exercise prevents heart attacks, high blood pressure, and diabetes.  But did you know exercise may treat your brain problems, including mild depression and memory loss?  This article talks about exercise benefits and focuses on the brain.  

Shorter daylight hours herald another long winter.  During fall and winter, depression sufferers may become worse.  Depression affects 10-20% of our population.  While many medications exist to treat depression, all have side effects, including weight gain, stomach problems, sleep problems, and sexual problems.  Daily vigorous exercise may combat mild depression and provide additional benefits without serving up nasty complications.

Vigorous exercisers describe a “runners high,” a feeling of calmness and well being. Studies reveal high levels of beta endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline in experienced exercisers’ brains.  Anti-depressant medications work by boosting these very same brain chemicals.  Numerous of my patients, especially those practicing psychiatry, admit they exercise to keep depression at bay, reduce tension and anger, while improving self esteem and overall  health.   A recent study also shows exercise benefits in preventing Alzheimer’s, dementia.  

To see these brain benefits, exercise vigorously 30-60 minutes, 5-7 days per week.  Walking, jogging, aerobics, lifting weights all seem to work.  The point is to get started and stick with it.  Once you start and keep at it for a few months, you will be “hooked.”

Depression is the third-most common illness in females and tenth-most common in males, and darker months seem to cycle people into the doldrums.  Start exercising now to keep from an impending downward spiral.  Don’t worry, be hoppy.

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Priority Medicine
John. T. Kihm, M.D., F.A.C.P.

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