More and more researchers and physicians are coming to the conclusion that exercise can be as effective as antidepressants in reducing the symptoms of major depression.

Group or Solitary Both Work

Many studies have shown that exercise in a group setting is highly effective, and new research is beginning to suggest that solitary exercise, such as workouts at the gym or a daily jog, can be equally helpful.

Better Than Zoloft

Research on the subject has demonstrated that:

  • 10 months of regular, moderate exercise outperformed a leading antidepressant (Zoloft) in easing symptoms in young adults
  • 30-minute aerobic workouts done three to five times a week cut depressive symptoms by 50 percent in young adults

Boosts Energy

One probable cause is that exercise affects key brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, but physical activity may also trigger positive changes in other areas, such as by boosting energy. A more intense exercise regimen may be the most effective for that purpose.

As depressed individuals may have trouble breaking into an exercise routine, however, starting on a small scale and building up may be the key to success.

Yahoo News November 6, 2005

Dr. Mercola's Comment:Over 20 million Americans suffer from depression. The World Health Organization identified major depression as the fourth leading cause of disease worldwide, causing more disability than heart attacks or strokes.

If you start to feel depressed, especially with the decreasing sunlight of winter in the northern hemisphere or the coming holidays, I would encourage you to review my signs and symptoms of depression page to help you understand if you suffer from this disease.

Fortunately, there has been an increasing acceptance in conventional medicine that there are better, safer and healthier alternatives to treating depression than prescribing an antidepressant.

More and more evidence is accumulating that for most people exercise is more powerful than drugs in treating depression.For exercise, though, it needs to be used like a drug and must be prescribed very carefully. Going out for a simple walk after dinner will not likely provide as much benefit as a comprehensive exercise strategy.

It has been my experience that most Americans have a serious exercise debt. I've found patients need to move toward 90 minutes of cardiovascular exercise every day during the treatment phase to repay this exercise debt. Of course when you are feeling depressed the last thing you want to do is exercise intensely for 90 minutes, so you need to move gradually and as fast as your body will allow you to progress.

The key, as thearticle states,is to get started in some way, no matter how small. Fortunately, I have plenty of free tools to help you get started, including a comprehensive exercise guide and an exercise table you can use to monitor your progress.

It is also important to make sure you have a regular supply of either fish or cod liver oil, as the animal-based omega-3 fats of DHA and EPA are probably the single most important nutrient to battling depression. Avoiding sugar and grains will help normalize insulin and leptin levels, which is also another powerful tool in addressing depression.

Bright light exposure is crucial to prevent SAD (seasonal affective disorder), and the use of full-spectrum lights in the winter is a vital tool in helping solve the depression mystery. We will be offering some of the best and least expensive full-spectrum bulbs in the next few weeks for this purpose.

I also encourage you to review the strategies Paul Chek and Dr. Ben Lerner share with readers every week in my 'eHealthy News You Can Use' newsletter.

Author's Bio: 

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