Side Effects May Include…
There are many antidepressant drugs out on the market these days. Many of them have a slew of undesirable side effects. Some common side effects of antidepressants include nausea, insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, dizziness, weight gain, tremors, sweating, sleepiness or fatigue, dry mouth, diarrhea, constipation, and headaches (helpguide.org). Few people know, however, that exercise is a powerful natural antidepressant, and unlike pharmaceutical drugs, exercise has only positive side effects. According to the Mayo Clinic, the side effects of exercise include: a healthier body weight, a healthier heart, less depression, more happiness, increased energy, better sleep, and an overall reduction in stress. On top of all this, “regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer, and arthritis” (Mayo Clinic).
In her book The First 20 Minutes, Gretchen Reynolds explains that exercise may well be the key to improving memory, preventing Alzheimer’s disease, and stalling or even eliminating age related mental decline. Reynolds writes about several scientific studies where working out consistently prompted the creation of new neurons, as well as new blood vessels, and connections between the neurons. These studies have also found that running and even walking can increase the number of nerve cells in the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in learning and memory. “In one study,” writes Reynolds, “elderly sedentary people who began a walking program showed significant growth in several areas of the brain after six months. The walkers’ brains were bigger, faster, and younger, and they consequently performed better on tests of memory and decision making than people who’d remained sedentary” (206).
Exercise can take the quality of our lives next level. We were built for action, and that is why exercise yields a sense of freedom that makes the spirit soar. Movement is the delight of all physical beings. If you have ever wondered if you could be one of those “active” people, give it a try and find out. It’s time to take advantage of the awesome side effects of exercise!
Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Damon Ramsey, MD. Antidepressants, Depression Medication. Helpguide.org. February 2014
Mayo Clinic Staff. 7 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity. Mayo Clinic. February 2014.
Gretchen Reynolds. The First 20 Minutes. Penguin, 2012, print. (page cited, 206)
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