All of us have tough days where we feel frazzled from work, school or family commitments. We experience frustration, aggravation, and mild depression as a result of the many challenges presented by daily life. If we leave these emotions unattended, the result will be feeling "blue." The danger is that "blue" or down feelings can turn into a more serious depression. This is where the work of Dr. John Rately, MD and the author of, "Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain," comes in.
In his popular and easy to read book, Dr. Ratey explains all of the recent research that points to the fact that the brain benefits greatly from aerobic exercise. In fact, even ten minutes per day of vigorous walking helps the brain. Specifically, exercise gets the endorphins flowing. Endorphins are those feel good hormones that are naturally produced by our bodies. Good exercise gets the endorphins flowing. Doing this on a daily basis teaches the brain an excellent way to feel better. A longer work out, say twenty minutes three times a week, can produce longer lasting emotional benefits. Dr. Ratey asserts that this type of exercise works on mild to moderate depression as well as, or better than, anti depressants.
So, put on your sneakers or walking shoes and go out there for a walk. Take time during work to do this or wait until you get home, but, as the Nike ads say, "Just Do It!" The studies also show that exercise improves concentration, memory, performance and optimism.
In yesterday's blog, Dr. Elisha Goldstein PhD of our Mental Help.Net suggested that everyone spend Saturday turning off the computers, cell phones and other electronic equipment and devoting the day to really living. Taking a good vigorous walk is one thing we all can start to do.
Your comments and questions are encouraged.
Allan N. Schwartz, PhD.