With all the stress of holidays (financial, to-do lists, family, etc.), its no wonder that many people experience depression and anxiety this time of year. And, with all the sweet treats and long list of tasks that need to be completed, its perfect storm for weight gain.
So, if you want to maintain your natural weightloss plan (and help fend off depression and anxiety at the same time), then exercise is the key.
Regular aerobic exercise can be a potent defense against depression. When you move, you greatly improve blood flow and oxygenation to the brain, which in turn increases the production of beta-endorphins, the bodys natural painkillers that give you a sense of euphoria and well being. In fact, exercise has been shown to be as effective as commonly prescribed antidepressants.
According to a 1999 study from the Archives of Medicine, exercise is as effective as medication in reducing depression. Researchers randomly separated more than 150 men and women over the age of 50 who had major depressive disorder into three groups. One group was given the antidepressant sertraline (Zoloft), the second group either rode a stationary bicycle, walked, or jogged for 30 minutes three times a week, and the third group received the antidepressant as well as the exercise regimen. All subjects underwent extensive evaluations for depression. After 16 weeks, researchers found that there was equal improvement in depressive levels between the groups.
A 2002 study from the American Journal of Epidemiology took these findings one step further and set out to determine if exercise could actually prevent depression. Researchers studied nearly 2,000 adults age 50 to 94 for more than five years, and rated their physical activity on an eight-point scale, with 8 indicating the highest level of physical activity (activities included walking, swimming, etc.). They found that every one-point increase in activity lowered the risk of becoming depressed by 17 percent, and improved depression scores by 10 percent in people who were already depressed. Researchers concluded that physical activity did indeed have a protective effect on depression for older adults.
So counteract the stressful effects of the holidays with a little exercise. Just 30 minutes a day is worth your sanity!
For more information on ways to maintain your natural weightloss plan during the holidays, visit Dr. Larks Web site.