A recent article explains how a leading medical facility in Minnesota, Health Partners Medical Group (HPMG), is encouraging clients with depression to walk their way toward recovery. Studies have shown that even moderate exercise can provide relief for those experiencing symptoms of depression. Nearly 20 million people suffer with depression in the United States, and most wait almost ten years before seeking any treatment. The symptoms of depression can cause a person to lose productivity and experience a significant decrease in the quality of their life. Exercise such as walking affects the neurotransmitters that are stimulated with medications for both anxiety and depression. Experts support exercise as an effective component to a comprehensive treatment regimen that may incorporate medication and therapy as well.
“Health Partners believes so strongly that exercise will help our patients who have depression that our doctors are prescribing pedometers to anyone screened for depression,” said president and CEO of Health Partners, Mary K. Brainerd. Most clients strive for a minimum of half an hour a day of exercise, at least three days a week. Although this can seem daunting to someone suffering with depression, the pedometer tracks any physical activity, and even minimal amounts of exercise can be recognized as achievements.
Regional assistant medical director of HPMG, Art Wineman, adds, “The pedometer program is not meant to replace medication or therapy that may be beneficial to the patient. But it can be an effective tool in our toolkit for patients. Exercise works because it increases the feel-good chemicals in your brain. It also improves energy, relieves anxiety and helps sleep.” As clients begin to feel the accomplishment of small successes, such as walking up stairs or walking short distances, they will be encouraged to engage in more strenuous exercise which can lead to improved mood. Clinicians at HPMG hope that this program will motivate other mental health professionals to recognize and encourage the use of physical exercise as part of an overall treatment protocol for depression and anxiety.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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