Thursday, June 15, 2017

Motion and Mood

Why should moving more be part of your wellness program? For one thing, it’s a natural antidepressant. Heaps of research links exercise to improved mood—both as an immediate pick-me-up and by reducing the risk of future depressive episodes—and stronger resilience, which is the ability to handle stress.

(The majority of studies have focused on major depressive disorder, but those involving bipolar depression show similar results. One caveat: Exercise and elevated mood gets trickier because taking “goal-directed activity” to extremes is an aspect of mania.)

Scientists are trying to puzzle out just how exercise combats depression. One promising candidate is a brain protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). In addition to playing a crucial role in maintaining and creating neurons, BDNF appears to have antidepressants effects.

Physical activity spurs the production of BDNF— not to mention improving oxygen and nutrient flow to your brain.