Thursday, August 26, 2010

Exercise as medicine...a tool for personal well-being

We all know exercise is good for us. But the science of exercise is finally getting the recognition it deserves. The benefits are far-reaching! Not only is exercise great for weight loss, it also decreases blood pressure, increases glucose tolerance in the body (how well your body uses the sugars in your blood), increases joint motion, can decrease risk of cancer and can be used as treatment for depression (see below). That being said, doctors are forlorn on how to prescribe such an intervention, besides telling patients to go to the gym 3-4 times a week. I attended a lecture on prescribing exercise (writing out specific recommendations for patients) 2 years ago at the annual American College of Preventive Medicine conference in LA and was blown away.

Check out for more info!

Also read about yoga as a treatment for mild to moderate depression... 

Direct from Dr. Andy Weil's website:

Daily aerobic exercise is a reliable and effective treatment for mild to moderate depression, but new research suggests that yoga may work even better. A study from Boston University School of Medicine showed that practicing yoga increased levels of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric) in the brain. Low levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter, are associated with depression and anxiety disorders. Investigators followed two randomized groups of healthy volunteers for 12 weeks. One group performed an hour of yoga three times a week, while the other group walked for an hour three times a week. Before and after the last session, the researchers compared the GABA levels of each of the volunteers using magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging. They found increased GABA levels and decreased anxiety among the participants in the yoga group, who also reported a significantly greater decrease in anxiety and more improved mood over the course of the study than did the volunteers in the walking group. The study was published online by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

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