THE BLOG
11/12/2011 06:57 am ET | Updated Jan 12, 2012

A Walk in the Sun

Take a walk, you'll be glad you did!
You have a natural and very effective antidepressant right inside your body!
The soothing body chemicals that nature embedded into our DNA, to help us to regulate our moods, don't get a chance to work their daily magic if we don't stimulate them through exercise of some sort. They even get kick started by a walk! Exercise releases serotonin into our bodies elevating our moods, our motivation and our pleasure in living. In other words, it makes us feel better! We need dopamine, seratonin and norepinephrine to be released into our bodies in order to feel good. This prescription, according to research, is as effective as a drug is for healing depression. In a recent study at Duke University, researchers Michael Babyak, Ph.D., and James Blumenthal, Ph.D., found that depressed patients who exercised had declines in depression equal to those who received antidepressants. In addition, those who continued to exercise after treatment were 50 percent less likely to become depressed again.

A ten-minute walk gives you more energy in the long run than a candy bar. Researchers find that exercising in whatever way is most convenient works best. If it's a brief walk during a lunch break, walking the dog or biking to work, exercise seems to work well when it's combined with purposeful activity or works naturally into our lives. Studies also reveal that exercising with other people helps us to make it a more regular part of our lives. To say nothing of making time for friends. Talking and walking is actually a really relaxing ways to share time with others.

When we try to get our lives to work on strictly a psychological level, we ignore the fact that we live in a body, and that that body has significant power over our moods. This is also one of the easiest places to start to turn our lives around or to get out of an emotional slump. A daily, brisk thirty-minute walk outdoors is free, and one of the best habits we can cultivate for our bodies, minds and spirits. It can elevate our moods, keep us fit, control weight, relieve depression and give us time with friends....to say nothing about exposing us to natural sunlight and the great outdoors. There's just no downside to this one.