Being physically active has long been known to be a management strategy for those suffering from depression. Celebrities like Raelene Boyle and Gary McDonald have been championing physical activity as an essential component of diminishing their "black dog" for a few years now.
Scientists have been trying to find out the basis for this insidious illness and its link with the sedentary lifestyle in modern society. Researchers from the University of British Columbia in Canada suggest that they have found a measurable link to physical activity and mental health.
The researchers studied an area of the brain known as the hippocampus. This is a region is associated with emotion, and the researchers' clinical trials on animals have revealed that exercise leads to a regeneration of nerve connectors in this area of the grey matter. It has also been shown through autopsy that depressed humans have a smaller hippocampus and that stress causes atrophy (tissue loss) to this part of the brain.
This is not to say that all depression can be cured through physical activity as it is a much more complicated issue than that, however, the rise of cases in the clinical setting may well coincide with an increase in the sedentary lifestyles of Australians.
Try some of the assessment tools at LifestyleMedicine.net.au to assess your emotional and psychological health and think about how much physical activity you achieved over the past seven days.
This is yet another reason to keep your body moving; it can keep your mind healthy, too!
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