Feeling Blue? Lift a Weight or Two
Timeless Health Tip
Exercise has become an appealing alternative to help alter one's mood. Many recent studies have been published supporting the belief that exercise has been proven effective in improving depression and in some cases has been able to prevent it all together.
Lifting weights may help lift clinical depression. Symptoms of depression receded in three-quarters of both men and women who participated in a Harvard Medical Study.
The participants followed a 20-week strength training program to build up their upper bodies and lower bodies. In contrast, depression receded in only a third of the group which did no lifting at all but did attend lectures on health.
In addition, the benefits persisted despite the fact that after ten weeks the exercisers were on their own and no one was directly supervising them.
An interesting detail specific to the exercise depression debate is the fact that some studies have concluded that moderate exercise proves more effective than strenuous exercise when trying to decrease depression. This observation is proven true in the study performed by Moses, Steptoe, and Matthews (1989), where 109 sedentary people were randomly assigned to one out of four groups:
- high intensity exercise
- moderate intensity exercise
- a waiting list
When the 10 week study was completed, researchers found that those in the moderate intensity exercise group were the only ones to show improvement in their levels of depression. It is presumed that the high intensity program added more stress than relief and therefore could not improve depression rates.
It seems that the majority of studies dealing with the psychological affects of exercise all conclude that exercise does have a positive affect on depression. Studies also suggest that aerobic activity, strength or flexibility training all prove effective in treating depression. This is because the focus of this treatment is the physical activity itself and the effects it carries on the mind.
When you're feeling blue lift a weight or two - then reach for food in hues of green, red and orange. A new survey published in BMJ Open shows that five or more servings of brightly hued fruits and vegetables daily are associated with higher levels of optimism, happiness, resilience and self esteem. The reason? Antioxidants. One serving equals one small apple, 1/2 grapefruit, 1 cup leafy greens or 1/2 cup raw vegetables such as squash.