Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Healthy Habits Ward Off Depression

Healthy habits make for a healthy mind. This is common sense. A recent study once again proves this to be true.

The "American Journal of Public Health" published a study this month that found;
- Study participants who reported excessive alcohol use (three or more drinks daily) were more likely to suffer from depression.
- Overweight participants were also more prone to depression.
- Those who reported exercising for more than 30 minutes daily were less likely to be depressed.

One of the best "cures" for depression is exercise. Physical exercise is shown time and time again to be an effective treatment of depression and regular exercise will also help with the weight issues that can make you more prone to depression.

I started running 8 years ago, when my older brother was diagnosed with cancer. Bill never smoked, did not drink, exercised regularly, ate well and led an extremely healthy lifestyle. We have no family history either. To this day, we still do not understand how cancer was able to grab the healthiest one among us. I was a smoker at the time and figured I had pushed my luck too long.

Have any of you tried to quit smoking? It's a bugger. A BIG FAT BUGGER. After several failed attempts, I became desperate and signed up to run the Chicago Marathon. If that didn't knock the smoking habit out of me, nothing would. My early runs fell somewhere between humorous and pathetic. I would lace up my shoes and jog to a nearby friend's house to have a cigarette. Pretty soon I would make a few extra loops around the neighborhood before stopping in for a smoke. Eventually, I quit altogether.

What I found out quite by accident was that running did wonders for my mood. Running did not completely wipe out the depression and make me a bright and shiny person. It did make a horrible time more tolerable.

The kids caught on to the magic of my running even before I did. "Do you need to go out for a run," one of the boys would invariable ask when Mom was on the edge. They gladly supported the time I spent on the road in exchange for a more calm mom when I returned. I often joke that running is the only thing that saves my sanity.

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