Get Moving, Feel Well

Winter months often bring on depression and anxiety. This is that time of year when we spend less time outdoors, getting less fresh air and Vitamin D; our stress can peak as holiday bills arrive; and the pressure to stay on track with resolutions gets harder. It's also a critical time to take care of yourself and exercise. It's now that I urge you to remember how good you felt when you finished our first workouts, how proud you were to challenge yourself.

Depression is commonly characterized by feelings of overwhelming sadness, hopelessness and loss. The mood disorder is caused by psychological, biological and even environmental factors.

Exercise can be an excellent factor in managing symptoms of anxiety and depression. According to a new study from Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), increased levels of physical activity can significantly reduce the odds of depression, even among people who are genetically predisposed to the condition. "Findings strongly suggest that, when it comes to depression, genes are not destiny and that being physically active has the potential to neutralize the added risk of future episodes in individuals who are genetically vulnerable,” says Karmel Choi of MGH and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Choi recommends that about 35 additional minutes of physical activity each day may reduce their risk of depression and protect against future episodes.

Other ways to cope include staying active socially, practicing yoga or mindful breathing for stress reduction, and staying on top of your medical care. Seek help from friends and family. Medication, therapy and support groups can be beneficial. Be open and discuss any changes in mood with your doctor.

If you feel you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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