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Not Exercising is Like Taking a Depressant: Here is Why



Most of us know that physical exercise is important however what most of us don’t know, is how important it is for not only our physical health but also our mental health. Recently I have been feeling a bit low and realized I haven’t taken my exercise routine very seriously. When I feel bad, I usually go jogging in nature, so that’s what I did. And after the run, I was feeling much calmer and more peaceful. And I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, this is amazing how much a 30 min run can affect my mental health. Why am I not doing this more often.” Then I came across very fascinating research done by Professor Michael Babiak from Duke University. He studied 156 patients with major depression these are people who are often suicidal, feel that they're worthless, possess excessive guilt, and lack energy. Here is how it got interesting. Babiak divided them into three groups, the first group received medication, a powerful antidepressant like Prozac. The second group didn’t get any Prozac, they just exercised for 30 minutes, three times a week. The third group did both, they took the drug and exercised as well. You will not believe what he found. When he looked at the results, he saw that regular exercise is as effective as a daily dose of Prozac for alleviating depression. What, I can’t believe that. But here is how it gets even more interesting. Once the study was over, among those who took the Prozac and got better, thirty-eight percent relapsed back into depression. But the relapse to depression among those who only exercised was just 9 percent. When I saw these results and thought about my own experience with exercise, I said to myself that exercising is like taking an antidepressant. But when I thought more about it, I realized actually that not exercising is like taking a depressant. It’s true that running made me feel better, but the reason that I have been feeling low recently is that I haven’t taken my exercise routine very seriously.


You see, we were not made to be inactive and sit in front of a computer screen all day, or spend our days in meetings and office buildings. We were made to run after a gazelle for lunch or run away from a lion so that we don't become lunch. When we don't exercise, we are ignoring this physical need that our bodies are evolved to crave. And when we ignore a bodily need, whether it’s vitamins, proteins, or exercise, we pay a price. Exercise generates dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. These are all the feel-good chemicals in the brain. Exercise is like a natural wonder drug that gives us all the feel-good chemicals. So, when we exercise, we increase our self-esteem, improve our ability to concentrate, strengthen our immune system, and sleep better.


Of course, exercise is not a cure-all, and sometimes drugs are important however whether we suffer from depression or anxiety or simply want to be healthier and happier, we should use this natural wonder drug more often. What I usually love to do is to go to a park and run in nature. I just love it.

So, what do you enjoy the most? Walking, swimming, or cycling? Is it the dance or playing volleyball? do you enjoy running outdoors or hitting the treadmill at the gym? Choose at least one of these and commit to it. Also, write down the times you are planning to exercise. Do this at least a month in advance, just like you would record any other important meeting that you have. You can start with five or ten minutes of light exercise twice a week and then build up gradually until you get to at least three weekly sessions of 30 minutes each. Use this natural wonder drug more often. Now, I gotta go run, see you in the next video.

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