I always marvel at human behavior as we tend to selectively become more active during some times of the year to the neglect of others. Summer time and the month of December are two times those come to mind. In the summer time some of us become very active while other tail off completely and tell themselves, “Well, I will just start back with my exercise routine when school gets back in”. December is statistically the lowest month of exercise because of holiday festivities.
As you all know, here at Lifelong Fitness we advocate becoming healthy and fit for the rest of your life and at ALL times. There should be no season where we are more physically active than others. The downside to this type of thinking is that we become conditioned to our behaviors and we eventually become complacent and habitual with them. As a consequence we find ourselves on a roller coaster. Our energy levels sore when we are on our “ups” and they plummet when we are on our “downs”. Many times we become unstable mentally as we know that we should be exercising and we experience and inner guilt. We may become down about our performance and even depressed if we allow ourselves to slip back into damaging sedentary ways. Many of us become dependent on certain prescription drugs that may or may not help us in the long term pursuit of health, nutrition and fitness.
I can personally vouch for the powerful and profound effects of exercise as it relates to finding a balance of mental, physical and emotional well-being. That is why we are so gung-ho about lifestyle change here. It truly is the ONLY long-term solution to finding true balance in your life. If you can find time for appropriate exercise (both resistance training and aerobic) and nutrition, you will be well on your way to enhancing your life in every area. Ask anybody who has changed their lifestyle and I know that they will agree.
This newsletter is going to be a bit different in that some of its content will not be written by me (Griff Neilson). Rather I would like to share an article that was referred to me by one of my clients about exercise and depression. I have found this article to be extremely well researched and well worth your time. Please read it with an open mind and I would invite any discussion that it might promote. Enjoy the article!
The following article is credited with appropriate information for additional research. It is only about half of the original piece. If you wish to view the entire article (which I highly recommend) please visit: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/06/the-real-cause-of-americas-mental-illness-problem.aspx
Depression Breakthrough: A Proven “Better Than Drugs” Solution with Positive Side Effects
Posted By Dr. Mercola | October 06 2010
Here, medical journalist and Pulitzer Prize nominee Whitaker discusses how the widespread use of psychiatric drugs has contributed to the increase in mental illness.
Tens of millions of Americans have been made crazy — due to their use of or withdrawal from psychiatric drugs. That’s the conclusion of two books written by award-winning health science writer Whitaker.
Today’s Approach to Mental Health = Drugs
So what happened between 1974 and today to make the prognosis of depression go from one with a positive outcome to one that essentially disables you for life?
You don’t need a medical degree to figure it out.
Just turn on your TV, and what do you see?
Advertisements that all but hypnotize you into believing that this drug or that will help you feel better – especially if it turns out that you’re one of the two-thirds of people on antidepressants who aren’t getting better.
As Whitaker points out in his interview with me, that’s the Ability ad, which basically is telling you to step up onto the next rung on the psychiatric drug ladder and add an antipsychotic drug, because what they’re giving you on the lower rung – antidepressants – don’t work.
In his research, Whitaker has conclusively shown that in most cases these drugs work no better than a placebo – and can also have serious side effects, including causing even more serious mental disorders than the one you’re being treated for!
I’ve discussed this in previous articles, such as this one in 2002. And earlier this month, I wrote about how drug companies have hidden clinical trials that showed negative effects, or no efficacy at all, as Whitaker describes in his work.
When it comes to side effects, many people are aware of the most common ones, such as sexual dysfunction and sleeplessness. And if you go back to the TV, you’ll see that some of these negative effects are mentioned in the ads – albeit so quickly you don’t really have time to think about them.
But did you know that some of the worst side effects aren’t even classified as such?
Or that others, like substantial weight gain and increased glucose and lipid metabolism, can be so unpleasant that people on these drugs just stop taking them?
Exercise: One of Nature’s Best Alternatives to Maintaining Good Mental Health
Fortunately, more and more research is coming out in support of natural, drug-free ways to maintain or achieve good mental health. Much of that research is showing that simple strategies such as dietary changes and physical activity can significantly assist your recovery.
A Duke University team studied three groups that tried exercise only; exercise plus drugs; and drugs only, to see what treatment best treated depression. They found that after six weeks, the drug-only group was doing a tiny bit better than the other two groups.
They hypothesized that the best stay-well rate would be those with drugs plus exercise.
But they were wrong!
Ten months later, it was the exercise-onlygroup that was most successful in maintaining wellness! In fact, according to a September 22, 2000 Duke University press release:
“After demonstrating that 30 minutes of brisk exercise three times a week is just as effective as drug therapy in relieving the symptoms of major depression in the short term, medical center researchers have now shown that continued exercise greatly reduces the chances of the depression returning.
The new study, which followed the same participants for an additional six months, found that patients who continued to exercise after completing the initial trial were much less likely to see their depression return than the other patients.
Only 8 percent of patients in the exercise group had their depression return, while 38 percent of the drug-only group and 31 percent of the exercise-plus-drug group relapsed.”
While the researchers weren’t exactly sure why exercise worked better than the drug used in this study – Zoloft – they speculated that active participation in their get-well program was the key difference for the exercise-only group.
“Simply taking a pill is very passive,” said study leader James Blumenthal. “Patients who exercised may have felt a greater sense of mastery over their condition and gained a greater sense of accomplishment. They may have felt more self-confident and competent because they were able to do it themselves, and attributed their improvement to their ability to exercise.
“Findings from these studies indicate that a modest exercise program is an effective and robust treatment for patients with major depression. And if these motivated patients continue with their exercise, they have a much better chance of not seeing their depression return.”
That’s right: In this study of 156 participants diagnosed with major depressive disorder, the researchers found that the best drug of all was the feeling that they were actively in control of determining their own outcomes!
The Duke researchers were not exercise specialists and it is likely that they overlooked exercises that work your white muscle fibers, like the Peak Fitness Techniques, which could work even better.
Nutrition Also Plays an Important Part
As Whitaker and I discuss in this interview, nutrition is another key player in evidence-based alternatives to drugs.
It’s already known that many additives, preservatives and food colorants can cause behavioral changes, and sugar should definitely be on this list as well.
One of the most recent and highly plausible theories that explain sugar’s impact on your mood and mental health is the connection between sugar and chronic inflammation.
Other studies have also found significant links between high-sugar diets and mental health problems such as depression and schizophrenia, even though they were not focused on the presence of inflammation per se.
For example, a 2004 study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that a higher dietary intake of refined sugar anddairy products predicted a worse 2-year outcome of schizophrenia.
As explained by Dr. Russell Blaylock, high sugar content and starchy carbohydrates lead to excessive insulin release, which can lead to falling blood sugar levels, or hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia, in turn, causes your brain to secrete glutamate in levels that can cause agitation, depression, anger, anxiety, panic attacks and an increase in suicide risk.
The dietary answer for treating depression is to severely limit sugars, especially fructose, as well as grains.
Well, there you have it my friends! I hope you found this article interesting. I personally believe every word of it because I have seen it time after time in my ten year career. Remember that it is truly about changing your life for the rest of your life! Life is good!