Another report from the National Institute of Mental Health states that nearly 18.8 million Americans over the age of 18 suffer from major depression. Suicide, closely linked to depression, is the third leading cause of death in people ages 10 to 24.
According to CNN, Lack of sleep adversely affects mood, school and job performance.What the heck is going on … and how on earth do we begin to heal? Try putting one foot in front of the other!
Exercise Improves Health
Exercise can help alleviate anxiety, depression, stress and sleep deprivation because of the changes that occur in brain chemistry. When you work out, the brain’s neurotransmitters send out signals to all parts of the body and play an integral role in exercise’s healing power. The three neurotransmitters that are affected mostly by exercise are endorphins, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
Endorphins can both relieve pain and create feelings of euphoria, commonly know as a “runners high.” It can lower blood pressure and may protect against Parkinson’s disease.
Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that adjusts mood, sleep and appetite. Low levels of serotonin have been deemed to be the cause of clinical depression. Studies have shown that exercise increases the serotonin in the brain much like the new generation of antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil and Celexa, but without the side effects of those drugs. Matter of fact, two studies at Duke University indicate that exercise was as effective as the anti-depressants for subjects with major depressive disorder.
Norepinephrine is the neurotransmitter that is involved in our body’s stress response. Exercise helps train the body to become familiar with experiencing stress.
Running, Walking, Swimming, Fishing..
So, exercise brings a sense of euphoria, improved mood and the increased ability to face stress. Amazing changes happen in the brain’s neurotransmitters when exercising. A sense of calmness and self-confidence is created; making it possible to face and work through our emotional pain. It may have been impossible to deal with emotional pain while you were sedentary because looking at your angst was too scary.
You can begin this process by creating an emotional pain question before you begin exercising such as “Why do I feel so anxious?” “How do I feel about the breakup with my boyfriend?” “How do I feel about the recent death of my mother?” Ponder this question while you are working out. You can walk, run, bike, skate or do any other aerobic exercise for as little as fifteen minutes; that is all the time it will take for endorphins to kick in. When you have completed your work out; write down your thoughts and feelings in journal form.
With exercise, you’ll soon discover that you have a greater understanding of what is troubling you and a sense that some emotional pain has been released. Go grab those sneakers and start today!