Depression is a complicated illness with many contributing factors such as genetics, lifestyle, environment and psychology, and can be debilitating for the patient as well as their loved ones. It is reported that as many as one in five women and one in eight men will experience depression in their lifetime. This means that we all know someone who is dealing with the effects of depression, anxiety or other mood disorders.

Exercise and a healthy lifestyle play a role in the treatment of depression, and it appears that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of depression while depression increases the likelihood of a sedentary lifestyle. This would lead one to believe that becoming more physically active can literally prevent illness!

One thing to remember with any exercise program is that you should consult your doctor before become more physically active. Once cleared for activity, it is important to consider the following things:

  • Exercise does not have to occur in a gym or a group exercise class. Simply becoming MORE physically active throughout the day is a great place to start. So, just get off the couch and get moving.
  • Decide on an activity that you enjoy ~ biking, walking, swimming are great things to do independently, but you might also like the social interaction of soccer, basketball or other team sports.
  • Begin to increase the time you exercise to at least 30 minutes a session. Even if you can’t maintain your activity for the full 30 minutes, take rest periods and gradually increase each week.
  • Exercise at least two times per week at first, and gradually increase to five times per week once your routine is established.
  • Begin to increase the intensity of your activity to 60-80% of your maximum heart rate. For a quick calculation, subtract your age from 220 to get your maximum heart rate. This is just an estimate, but it is a good place to start when you are just beginning to measure your success.

Exercise appears to be good for all that ails you, and research suggests that regular exercise may be effective in preventing depression and treating mild depression.

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