exercise now proven to help with depression

The Latest Research on Depression and Exercise

For years, exercise has been known to be a factor in preventing and treating depression, but until now researchers haven’t proven whether there is a causal link or simply a connection. The latest study makes it clear.

“Do you get any regular exercise?”

It’s a question I ask my clients regularly. People who exercise on a regular basis find that it helps reduce their anxious thoughts and depressed mood. If you are someone who loves to exercise and makes it part of your routine, it may be hard to imagine life without it. However, if you don’t exercise or if you have stopped, you know how hard it is to get started.

The accepted advice has been to do 30 minutes of heart-pumping cardio 3-5 times a week for physical and emotional benefits.

Previous research has indicated that exercise works just as well as anti-depressants (or better!) for mild-moderate depression. The latest study, led by a team at Massachusetts General Hospital, looked at genes in a randomized study to determine if this indicated a causal link. Their answer: yes.

“On average, doing more physical activity appears to protect against developing depression. Any activity appears to be better than none; our rough calculations suggest that replacing sitting with 15 minutes of a heart-pumping activity like running, or with an hour of moderately vigorous activity, is enough to produce the average increase in accelerometer data that was linked to a lower depression risk.”

The take away:

Aim for 15 minutes of intense exercise or an hour or moderate activity more days than not.

But here’s the rub:

Depression saps energy, takes away motivation, wrecks havoc on appetite and sleep and makes everything feel extremely difficult if not impossible. Things that used to be fun are now “meh” at best and dreadful at worst. I find depression to be one of the cruelest conditions because not only does it do all this…it convinces its sufferers that things are hopeless and will never get better.

So how in the world can you get from there to “15 minutes of a heart-pumping activity like running, or with an hour of moderately vigorous activity” in order to feel better?

If this feels impossible, your doctor or therapist can help you find ways to climb out of the pit enough to get started. For severe depression, working with your doctor to find the right medication may be the next best step.

Start small.

Don’t let black and white thinking get in the way. Start somewhere. Get up and stretch, Walk to the end of the street and back. Do 10 jumping jacks. Notice how your body feels after. Throw in that load of laundry you’ve been putting off. Do just a little more the next day, and the next day after that. Any movement is better than none.

If your mobility is limited, you can’t get started or exercise is just not for you no matter what, don’t despair! This is just one tool in the toolbox, there are many more.

Michelle

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typewriter

Apparently Blogging is Not Just Writing. Who Knew?

Hello and Happy 2019! I’m back after a little break from writing and I wanted to talk about what the process of starting this blog has been like: an enlightening learning curve to say the least.

Since I started this blog in August of 2018, the process has been an interesting ride.

I have always enjoyed writing but never really did anything consistent with it. A few of you may remember that for several years after starting my mental health practice, I sent out an email newsletter once a month. It would include a little mental health tidbit, a few updates about what was happening in my practice or in the larger mental health world, and a cozy little recipe or poem.

I really enjoyed writing and sending out this newsletter and the feedback I got was usually great stuff like “I really enjoy reading this” and “I can definitely hear your voice in this; it sounds like you are talking directly to me”. I loved that because it felt like a real and authentic connection. But then things happened with the complicated combo of Gmail and merge documents I was using, and it got to be really difficult to reach multiple email addresses. I didn’t know about things like MailChimp back then so my poor little newsletter faded away.

My best friend still says she hears my voice in this blog, but I’m not so sure. I’ll explain.

My next attempt at blogging was a free WordPress site which I struggled to build content on for YEARS. I changed the name a bunch of times and played around with the header image, but I never got clear enough on a topic to write consistently. FYI, if you are thinking about starting a blog and want to do anything other than write for yourself and maybe share it with a couple of people, you need a PAID WordPress site. Which opens up a whole can of worms filled with hosting and themes.

I didn’t even know what a theme was, and I’m still not sure exactly how they work but it is essentially a template for your site created by a developer and made available for free or for a fee. As soon as I started to get the hang of it, a giant WordPress update came out and I am now trying to learn it all over and it has me whining and whimpering like a toddler because I don’t like it!! (stomp)

I started this blog so that I could share my passion for helping moms navigate the challenges of life.

This includes big stuff like mental health and small stuff like staying on top of the daily grind. Maybe, hopefully, some of the ideas I share can help other readers besides moms too. But I very quickly learned that blogging is big business and there is so much to it my head started to spin.

First of all, as soon as I started searching for blogging advice on social media I was flooded with ads from coaches, programs and groups selling services. Ads offering to help bloggers: “Reach 10K Followers in a Month!” “Explode Your Traffic Using Pinterest!” and “Use Tailwind Tribes to Skyrocket Your Monthly Views!” These completely overtook my inbox.

Here’s the thing. If you want people to read your blog, you have to do SO MUCH work beyond just writing. One of the articles I found was literally called “27 Things to do Before Clicking Publish”. 27 things. These are the things that I quickly started to resent, and I was soon spending hours on my day off getting my short little weekly blog post published.

There is a reason blog posts all look the same.

Titles like “10 Ways to This!” and “5 Reasons for That!” are more easily picked up by search engines like Google. Today’s readers supposedly have short attention spans and only skim articles, which is why blog posts have so many sub-headings and short paragraphs. Keywords help the search engines too so you will see the same words or phrases over and over throughout a post. This process is called search-engine optimization, or SEO. Oh, and by the way, many of the blog posts you see are sponsored content, which is really just a paid advertisement!

Anyway, the point of this is that when I am thinking about all of these things, writing becomes no longer fun for me. It feels more like a second job, without pay. So today I just wanted to write from the heart and share what my experience has been like with this process. If you made it this far and are still reading, thank you!

As I get back into writing in 2019 you will probably still see the occasional “10 Ways to This!” posts because they are a quick and fun way to get content out there, and sometimes they make sense for the topic. But you will also see more of me writing from the heart about near and dear topics that require more than sub-headings and keywords.

I hope you are having a wonderful start to 2019 and I’ll talk to you soon!

Michelle