Sunday, 17th December 2017
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With Breda Gardner Homeopath, lcph, mcos, rgn

Health Therapies Clinic

13 Gladstone Street, Waterford.

Tel: 087 2025753.

Insight Natural Health Clinic

15 Upper Patrick St, Kilkenny

Tel: 056 7724429

Exercise V

Anti-depressants

Back when we lived in London, my husband Jerry was captain of a hockey team. One of the team players, the goalkeeper, endured a terrible tragedy, when his pregnant wife was diagnosed with cancer. It was an awful time, and both mother and unborn child died. A few Saturdays after the funeral, the hockey season began, and Jerry was unsure as to whether to call his friend to see if he was available. In the end, he made the decision to call him and ask if he wanted to play. The goalkeeper turned up for the first match and subsequently for the rest of the season. At the end of the season, Jerry spoke to his friend about his initial

reluctance to call him. "I’m glad you did,” came the reply, "The physical work out did me good, and for 70 minutes, all I could focus on was the game. I was forced to stop thinking about what had happened, which gave me a mental break too. In fact I actually found myself looking forward to Saturdays.”

As that story shows, we’ve known for years that even a single work-out can elevate your mood, and that physical activity is associated with decreased symptoms of depression. A study of 5,000 people carried out in America found that people who exercised regularly had a 25% lesser chance of being diagnosed with a major depression. Of course, such studies do not necessarily mean that exercise reduces depression. It might mean that depression reduces the desire to exercise. In other words, if you are depressed, you might feel too lousy to get up out of bed and go for a walk.

Another team of researchers from Duke University randomly assigned depressed men and women aged 50 or more into two groups. The first group were enrolled in an aerobic exercise class, whilst the second group were prescribed the anti-depressant drug Zoloft (sertraline). Within four months, the mood of those in the group who had been prescribed the drug improved so much that, on average, they were no longer depressed. But perhaps more interestingly, the same powerful result was noted in the exercise group - that is, the group of people who weren’t taking any drugs at all. In this instance, it appears that exercise works as well as medication.

The drug-free group met three times a week for an aerobic class. Perhaps it was the social stimulation rather the exercise itself that improved the mood, or the fact that people had something to look forward to? To check this, the same researchers conducted another survey. This time they added in a group who did exercise at home on their own. The results showed that no matter what the setting was - whether the people were alone or in a group - exercise seemed to be as effective as prescription drugs at helping to bring depression into remission.

Having suffered from depression myself in my youth, I am not for one moment suggesting that exercise is a complete cure. But I do know from personal experience how effective exercise can be in helping to combat and even overcome depression. So the next time your doctor writes you out a prescription for an antidepressant, perhaps you should ask him or her about a prescription for a daily work-out instead!

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