Can exercise really protect your brain from depression?

Can exercise really protect your brain from depression?

It has been universally acknowledged for many years that exercise can be a good treatment for mental health conditions including depression. It can help alleviate some of the worst symptoms of many mental health conditions but new research is now claiming that it can actually prevent the onset of depression in the first place.

The October edition of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine included an in depth review looking at how the connection between physical exercise and depression can be taken even further than treatment. Moderate exercise is asserted to be able to prevent episodes of depression for the long term.

A review of this nature has never been carried out before and it looks solely at how exercise can play a key role in maintaining good health and therefore preventing the late onset of depression, which is surprisingly common in older people.

The review took a look back at over 26 years of research and used this to claim that even a low level of exercise such as walking or gardening for up to 30 minutes a day can have a significant impact on warding off depression.

It has been regularly reported in the media that health experts are looking for alternatives to avoid medicating people living with depression. Although there are other factors which impact on the chance of being diagnosed with depression, exercise really can have a strong positive impact in keeping the condition away. If you’re not physically active this another reason to begin working towards a healthy, active lifestyle and if you are then this is another reason to sustain your practices and be motivated to continue.

Spotlight on Yoga

Starting exercise for the first time since school can be extremely intimidating which is why there are some exercises which are the best to start with. Yoga can be practiced at many local gyms and it allows you to enjoy low impact, highly effective exercise without feeling too exposed. What’s more further research from a couple of years ago shows that yoga can too help fight off depression.

This study carried out by Boston University School of Medicine looked at a particular bodily chemical. The research shows that yoga boosts the levels of this chemical which is essential for a sound and relaxed mind set. The chemical compound in mind is the amino acid GABA and the levels of this chemical are much higher in people who carry out regular yoga sessions than those who do other exercises.

GABA is essential for regular brain functioning and plays a key role in the central nervous system for keeping the body’s level of calm regulated and in order. Low GABA levels are known for their association with depression and anxiety disorders. Getting these levels as high as naturally possible will truly help fight off those conditions which can really affect your ability to function at all.

Starting Exercise

Bringing exercise into your life doesn’t have to be a huge and life-changing experience but once you step foot inside your gym you’re committing to a healthier lifestyle and showing you want to improve your mental and physical health.  Beginning from scratch is hard which is why we have these simple tips in mind, to ensure you don’t get disheartened.

  1. Any exercise is better than none – if you feel like more than a simple walk around the block is too much then start with that. You may soon find you are enjoying it and you can push a little further.
  2. A Moderate Level of exercise has the best effect – it gives you something to aim for and work towards. There’s no pressure but once you get yourself there you’ll feel on top of the world.
  3. Moderate exercise is classed as around 30 minutes of fast walking and you need to do this 5 times a week. You can break it up into smaller chunks and incorporating something such as yoga would count towards your weekly count too.
  4. Take your time – your body will not thank you if you go from no exercise to trying to sprint. It is likely to do more harm than good and therefore you really do need to pace yourself.
  5. The health benefits of exercise go far and beyond avoiding depression. You’ll feel better, more energised and be giving your internal organs such as your heart and lungs a new lease of life.

An active lifestyle is being touted as really the best way forward on almost a daily basis. It’s something we simply can’t ignore and even if it seems impossible at the moment you can begin by just visiting your local gym or promising yourself you’ll go on that walk tomorrow. Little steps will make all the different in your quest for health.



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