Sunday, September 4, 2011

Exercise can relieve stress, and maybe depression

There is a fantastic blog post on the New York Times Science Blog Concerning the effect of strenuous exercise on patients suffering from excessive amounts of depression.
There is very little news in this piece. The positive effects on dopamine production resulting from regular exercise has been documented by journals of psychology and neuroscience.
The importance of this study is the KIND of exercise needed to see results: strenuous exercise.
Getting on a treadmill and walking at 2.0 mph is ok for a start, but clearly will not "lift your spirits." Dopamine production is closely related to that feeling of accomplishment: wow, I just ran X number of miles or lifted X number of pounds. This is also related to greater neurosensory reception, meaning that your neurons connect better with your muscles, kinda like an upgrade from dial-up to broadband - you communicate faster.
I am not advocating that someone exercise instead of seeking professional help, but the findings are an important motivator for anyone "stuck in a rut" and need to make a life change.
Get the heart pumping and ready for a change. The parts of the brain related to emotion and heart rate are all right next to each other. Keep 'em active!