Exercise is good for the body for many reasons:
1. Better moods make us easier to live with (even if we live alone)
2. Our blood sugar is more stable (insulin levels)
3. Less inflammation (reducing the fat cells responsible for producing it)
4. Lungs carry more oxygen to the brain for clarity of thought
5. Great stress reliever
6. Weight loss
7. Boosts immunity
8. Better sleep
9. Better heart health and blood pressure
10. Positive body image
With all these bonuses from exercise, unfortunately depression often keeps people from exercising. Having symptoms of depression is associated with reduced physical activity in people with type 2 diabetes, according to a study carried out by the University of Leicester.
Speaking from personal experience, as one who’s dealt with depression for half a century, when I was foolhardy and thought I was “healed,” I went off my medication. When the depressive symptoms came back, just getting out of bed was a chore, much less going for a walk. Sweeping my galley kitchen floor, all 3 X 8 feet of it was a Herculean feat.
I was glad I had an understanding boss who said, “Get Help,” for I wasn’t much good at work either. As I recall, I even told my little girl the Easter Bunny wasn’t real, because I had no energy to dye or hide the eggs. If you’re anywhere near experiencing these symptoms, this is depression. Call your doctor. Get help. There’s a life of joy beyond this! It takes time, but the cloud can lift.
Physical activity is a key lifestyle change recommended for persons with metabolic syndrome and those with type 2 diabetes. Depression is relatively common in people with type 2 diabetes and people with depression often have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
1. Managing diabetes can be stressful and lead to symptoms of depression.
2. Diabetes can cause complications and health problems that may worsen symptoms of depression.
3. Depression can lead to poor lifestyle decisions, such as unhealthy eating, less exercise, smoking and weight gain — all of which are risk factors for diabetes.
4. Depression affects your ability to perform tasks, communicate and think clearly. This can interfere with your ability to successfully manage diabetes.
The researchers reviewed data from two studies; the Walking Away from Type 2 Diabetes study and the Let’s Prevent Type 2 Diabetes study. The analysis included a total of over 1,100 participants. They looked at the effects of depression symptoms on the amount of physical act people with type 2 diabetes take, using steps as the basis. Over a three year study, the trials compared people who underwent specific interventions, to increase the number of steps per day they take, with people who did not undertake this intervention.
The results showed that participants showing no symptoms of depression at the start of the study increased the number of steps per day they took by 592 steps when following the physical activity intervention.
The researchers grouped the participants into whether they had symptoms of depression or not. 11% of the participants showed mild to severe depression at the start of the study period. The researchers used a score system to grade the level of symptoms of depression and found that, for each one-point increase in level of depression at the start of the study, 88 fewer steps per day were taken as part of the intervention.
The research team also looked at how an increase in the depressive score over time affected the number of steps taken per day. The findings showed that each one-point increase in depression score, through the study period, was linked with 99 fewer steps taken per day.
The study findings suggest that interventions to reduce the burden of depression might help to increase the success of physical activity interventions. This would need to be confirmed with studies to specifically test such an intervention.
In summary, exercise alone cannot lift depression. A better diet alone won’t lift depression. Getting rid of a spouse, a job, or anything else also won’t make you happy either. Why? Depression is an illness and it needs to be treated. While lifestyle changes make the treatment more likely to be effective without adjustment for a longer period of time, some people have familial tendencies to chronic depression, rather than brief spells due to a grief event.
We can all benefit from increased exercise. If you’re having difficulty thinking about adding 1,000 extra steps to your day, you could set an alarm on your stove or your phone for every hour. If you walk around for 5 minutes to get a coffee, check the mail, or go look out the window, you’ll add a few steps to your day without bother. Plus, you won’t sit for eight hours straight, which is hardly good for your health.
We can all do better. I’m working my way back from only 3,000 daily steps of general slothfulness, due to chronic sinusitis brought on by a black mold infestation from a leak in my home. It’s cured now, I’m cured also, and I’m in training once again for the 5K walk in my home town. I’ll probably finish last, but at least I’m walking. I hope to best last year’s time, but if I don’t, I still get a medal! How great is that? Plus I get health benefits out the wazoo!
I know you can make some small daily improvement also. It doesn’t need to be much. Start low and go slow, if you haven’t been on the exercise train for a while. If 5 minutes extra is too much, cut that in half for the morning, but do the other half in the afternoon. Build your strength over time, rather than pouring it all out at once. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and we won’t become lean, mean, fighting machines overnight. As I tell folks, “I built my full, mature, womanly figure over a lifetime.” I have no delusions or illusions about recovering my slim, girlish self. Keep your goals real, and make your changes over time. We all are in this together.
Joy, Peace, and Love,