Depression Reduction Benefits: Brain Chemicals & Walking
It is a chicken-and-egg situation. An inactive, sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of depression, and depression increases the likelihood of an inactive lifestyle.
Brain Chemicals and Walking
Serotonin has been linked to depression. Research has found the increase in physical fitness that results from walking or other exercise actually alters serotonin levels in the brain. This improves both moods and feelings of well being.
Walking is an activity that releases large quantities of endorphins, proteins that are released from the brain and spinal cord. These endorphins act on the nervous system to reduce pain and improve mood.
Other research indicates that regular exercise boosts body temperature, which may ease depression by influencing the brain chemicals. Benefits from walking briskly for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, are evident after only about four weeks of walking. Maintaining a regular walking schedule helps to prevent symptoms from recurring.
People who suffer from anxiety also improve when they walk or exercise regularly. Recent research suggests that regular exercise may be an effective way to lift depression symptoms, especially when combined with conventional treatments. This study split a group of people suffering from major depression into two groups. One group exercised aerobically for one hour, three times a week for nine weeks while maintaining a course of psychotherapy and medication. The other group continued with psychotherapy and medication only. The study showed significantly larger reduction scores in depression in the exercising group compared with the therapy and medication group.
Walking can be a natural cure for feelings of stress, anxiety and hopelessness.