You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Exercise’ tag.

A couple of months ago, we wrote about an ecological perspective on depression. I recently noticed Time Magazine has an article on Eco-Therapy. A couple of interesting exerpts:

…Eco-therapists point out that human beings have evolved in synchrony with nature for millions of years and that we are hard-wired to interact with our environment — with the air, water, plants, other animals. But in the past two centuries, beginning with the Industrial Revolution, people have been steadily removed from the natural world, our lives regulated not by the sun or moon but instead by the factory clock. Recently it’s gotten worse, with the rise of the Internet and other technologies, like iPhones and BlackBerrys, that dominate our lives, pushing us even further from any appreciation of our natural surroundings…

…A 2007 study by researchers at the University of Essex in England found that a daily dose of walking outside could be as effective as taking antidepressant drugs for treating mild to moderate depression. Of course, it’s no secret that regular exercise is a powerful mood enhancer — although researchers noted that a similar regimen of walking in a crowded shopping mall did not have the same impact — and the boost in vitamin D production in people who spent more time outside in the sun surely helped as well…

Food for thought.

One of the more startling findings is that the rate of depression in the western world has been on the increase over the past century. One study (summary here) found the rate of major depression in U.S. adults increased from 3.33% to 7.06% over a ten year period. The study interviewed a large sample, and used their own questions, rather than relying on the numbers diagnosed by doctors, so an increase in the rates of diagnosis wouldn’t explain the result. The study found increasing substance abuse could account for some, but not all of the change.

One researcher has explained the increase in depression in cultural terms. Stephen Ilardi, from the University of Kansas, argues that depression arises because people are more adapted to primitive times:

“As a species, humans were never designed for the pace of modern life, we’re designed for a different time — a time when people were physically active, when they were outside in the sun for most of the day, when they had extensive social connections and enjoyed continual face time with their friends and loved ones, when they experienced very little social isolation, when they had a much different diet, when they got considerably more sleep and when they had much less in the way of a relentless, demanding, stress-filled existence.” (Source: Kansas University News)

His six recommendations for depression are to get more physical activity, spend more time in the sun, keep up social connections, improve our diet (by eating more food with omega-3s, and less fast foods), getting more sleep, and engaging ourselves in tasks to avoid rumination. I’ve come across similar recommendations before, and they are good self-care behaviours.

The thing about culture is that we can often be sucked into thinking that the way we do things is the way things are meant to be done. So we should look at whether we’re buying into the modern high-stress culture, and consider whether we should make some changes to our lives. Maybe it’s time to go ‘primitive’, and live healthier lives?

It’s interesting to see how depression is being approached overseas. In Scotland, the government is attempting to cut down on antidepressant prescriptions, recommending GPs prescribe a program of exercise, and reading self-help material. Patients are only to be prescribed antidepressants after the exercise and reading hasn’t worked (link). While going for a run and having a read isn’t going to work for everyone – like any form of treatment – it’s promising to see the acknowledgement for holistic treatments for depression.

In New Zealand, the equivalent is the Green Prescription, where free support is provided to help people get more exercise.

December 2019
M T W T F S S
« Mar    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031