Exercise and mental health

5 months 1 week 6 days ago Friday, February 28 2020 Feb 28, 2020 Friday, February 28, 2020 10:53:41 AM CST February 28, 2020 in A Brighter Tomorrow
Source: NBC
By: Hope Beitchman, KOMU 8 Producer

It's a proven way to boost your mental health, and it's not another medication.

Doctor Frank McGeorge explains exercise can help erase symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other forms of mental illness.

"The chemistry in the brain is alterable with exercise," Dr. Ron Samarian, a psychiatrist, said.

Studies show in many people, regular exercise can ease mild to moderate depression as effectively as medication without potential side effects.

"With steady exercise we have a decrease in cortisol which is a stress hormone often related to depression anxiety. We see an optimization in serotonin which many people are now familiar with as controlling both anxiety and depression," Dr. Samarian said.

Exercise may also combat addiction.

"We get a short term buzz with an endorphin which is a feel-good chemical which can not only make us feel good at the moment but can also help with addiction properties. Dopamine and endorphins go in a loop, and the loop instead of the drug then becomes the exercise which is a very healthy replacement for an addiction," Dr. Samarian said.

However, some mental illness such as depression can prevent people from exercising.

"One of the clear symptoms of depression is the lack of motivation, so it's sort of a catch can vicious cycle. If there is a lack of motivation, there is a lack of will to proceed. If you can overcome that inertia that inability to move once it gets started it becomes very very valuable and important," Dr. Samarian said.

Dr. Samarian emphasized our physical and mental health are connected.

"Mind and body are connected and we don't want to separate them. If the body is healthy the mind is healthier and if the mind is healthier, it has a good chance to make good decisions for our bodies," Dr. Samarian said.

Researchers are studying which types of exercise best from the brain, but experts stress doing it regularly is what matters most.

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