TORONTO, Jan. 22 /CNW/ - This time of year is not always easy for
Canadians. It's cold and dark, the Christmas decorations are down, the credit
card bills are piling up, and some of us may be feeling anxious or depressed.
Canadians facing job losses because of the economic downturn may be
particularly vulnerable to mental health problems.
While counseling and medication are common ways of dealing with
depression, there is a growing body of evidence that shows the effectiveness
of physical activity in helping to prevent and treat mild and moderate forms
of depression. Research indicates that exercise improves mood, making people
with depression less negative, angry, tired, and anxious. It can also have a
positive effect on self-esteem and improve sleep. A recent study found that
just 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most or all days of the week can both
help prevent and treat depression.
The Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) supports the use of exercise
to complement other treatments for depression. "Exercise is an important
component in preventing and treating depression. It is an easy, inexpensive
and safe way to manage the symptoms of depression," says Nancy Durrant, a
physiotherapist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. "As
well as improving the symptoms," she adds, "exercise improves many other
aspects of health such as cardiovascular fitness, so both mental and physical
health needs are being met."
For those individuals with health challenges, physiotherapists can tailor
their exercise prescription to not only assist in the rehabilitation process
but provide the added benefit of improving mild to moderate depression.
You can work with the physiotherapist to choose the type of exercise that
is most suitable. The physiotherapist will provide guidance in pacing, and
increase the exercise gradually to ensure you progress safely and steadily. As
well as prescribing an exercise program, the physiotherapist can suggest
lifestyle changes that may help you meet identified goals.
The health benefits of regular exercise will be noticed in a short time.
What's more, the positive effects of regular exercise may last for a
substantial period of time. "My practice experience with people with mild to
moderate depression supports the research in this area," says Nancy Durrant.
"An improvement in the mood of depressed people who follow a structured
exercise program can provide long-term benefits."
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