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Want to change your mood? Exercise will brighten matters

Stuart News - 3/3/2018

Mental health issues such as chronic stress, depression and anxiety are prevalent in our society.

In fact, per the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. leads the world in mental health illness statistics. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that 1 on 5 adults or approximately 43.8 million people will experience some mental illness in a year.

However, adults are not the only population being affected. One in 5 children or 21.4 percent of youth aged 18 or younger experience a mental disorder at some point. What is to be done?

Evidence for the role of exercise in depression is compelling, indicating that it can reduce the likelihood of developing the condition, as well as helping to alleviate symptoms of existing conditions. In fact, some evidence even suggests that for some people with depression, exercise can be of equivalent benefit to anti-depressant medications and that exercise is a very good add-on therapy.

A report in British Medical Journal cites that exercise reduced depressive symptoms similar to the effect of cognitive therapies and the American Journal of Preventative Medicine concludes that any level of regular activity can prevent depression.

Most people have a general understanding that exercise boosts mood, but there are numerous factors explaining why it helps in the management of mental health conditions. Exercise increases the production of neurotransmitters in the brain such as noradrenaline, dopamine and serotonin, but one of its primary actions is that it increases Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). If BDNF rings a bell, it is because it has been the center of discussion with newer generation anti-depressants. While pharmaceutical companies are targeting therapies to increase BDNF, exercise does it for you naturally. BDNF is so important in brain function, it has been described as 'fertilizer for the brain,' helping brain cells grow, proliferate, resist stress and function at their highest capacities.

Angie Ferguson is an exercise physiologist from Fort Myers. For more training tips, read her blog at or contact her at


Angie Ferguson

Guest columnist


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