At the risk of belaboring coverage of the death of comedian Robin Williams, I want to take this timely and relevant opportunity to remind readers that exercise is proven by research to be one of the best treatments for depression.
Now, before I proceed, by no means am I implying that a jog around the block could have saved Mr. Williams, or someone like him in such a hopeless state, particularly with the added knowledge that he was in the early stages of Parkinson's disease. I've read that Mr. Williams was an endurance athlete, and participated in numerous cycling and triathlon events. In fact, CNN reported that he used exercise and cycling to manage his stress and depression, but "the prospect that [Parkinson's] would prevent him from doing that was extremely upsetting, adding to the depression." So clearly, for those battling the depths of depression, exercise alone won't provide salvation.
That said, studies show that exercise, as part of a treatment program, can significantly improve symptoms of depression.
According to the article, "Understanding Depression," from the Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School, "
How does exercise relieve depression? For many years, experts have known that exercise enhances the action of endorphins, chemicals that circulate throughout the body. Endorphins improve natural immunity and reduce the perception of pain. They may also serve to improve mood. Another theory is that exercise stimulates the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which may directly improve mood.
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I am not a registered dietitian, nor a medical professional. My blog is a representation of my views and experiences, which are not intended as medical advice. While I am a certified personal trainer, descriptions of things I eat and exercises I perform may not be suitable for everyone. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your current routine.