Moderate Exercise May Help With Depression, Study Shows

Can exercise help people treat depression? A study at the University of Texas evaluated 80 patients with mild to moderate depression, and placed them in five groups. The first four focused on exercising on various levels of intensity, while the fifth group didn’t exercise at all, according to a report by News FX.

After 12 weeks, the researchers found dramatic differences in those in the groups who exercised on a treadmill three times a week or more for 30 minutes or more at a time. This group had a 50 percent reduction in their depressive symptoms, while the groups that didn’t exercise at all or only mildly, saw a 29 percent reduction in symptoms.

What’s Weighing You Down? 3 Tips To Help You Lighten Up

By Keri Nola, MA, LMHC

Are there times when you feel physically, emotionally, and mentally heavy? Do you sometimes look in the mirror and wonder who is staring back at you? Are you tired of trying everything you know about how to look and feel your best only be left frustrated, back at square one?

For many of us, our journeys with physical and emotional self-care have been a wild rollercoaster ride at best.  We live in a society obsessed with quick fixes and instant pleasure and gratification, and we often jump on this bandwagon only to be disappointed when we don’t get the long-term results we deserve and desire.

Here’s the deal – physical and emotional self-care is a process. Our well-being is our responsibility 24/7 and that means being willing to make mindful choices moment after moment each day to get the results we are seeking. Whether getting “lighter” means losing weight or freeing your mind and heart from chaos, these 3 tips can support you in lightening up.

Explore the Benefit: Before we can release something, we have to acknowledge why we’ve been holding onto it for all this time. I know this may sound crazy and you may be asking yourself, how would I be benefitting from being overweight, depressed and anxious? The truth is there can be many reasons! Some of us use weight as an illusion of protection in our relationships. Depression can be a way we get others to pay attention to us, and anxiety can be an excuse to stay small and not do things that scare us. We don’t do things that don’t serve us—period.  So if you’re ready to make a change, let yourself explore this statement: “If I’m emotionally, mentally and/or physically lighter, I’m afraid that…” See what arises in this space and meet it with compassion. This awareness in itself empowers you to move forward.

Bring in Compassion: One of the ways we sabotage our personal growth is by beating ourselves up and struggling to bring compassion and kindness to patterns, behaviors, and emotions we say we want to change. The truth is, when we are ready to change, WE DO! Until then, it is most helpful and empowering to meet ourselves wherever we are with compassion. A practice of mindful self-kindness and care is one of the quickest ways to bring lightness into our experience. Often times it isn’t our circumstances that are heavy, but rather the judgment we place on ourselves about being in them. How can you lighten up the pressure you’ve been putting on yourself to do more and be more?

Clarify Intention and Surrender to Letting Go: In order to feel lighter, we often have to be willing to let something go. This can be a belief, a behavior, a relationship, a job, or any number of other things. Consider asking yourself, what am I feeling most weighted down by right now? Then clarify your intention of what you’d be willing to let go so you can welcome space for the lightness you desire. If you find you’re still holding onto something keeping you from gaining the lightness you want, meet yourself there with gentleness and know that will begin to create the space for change. You’re right where you need to be at this moment. All is well.

If you’re serious about Getting Lighter, I’d love to share this FREE audio with you on how to take what you already know, deeper.

Keri NolaAuthor of “A Year on Your Path to Growth: Daily Inspiration to Reconnect With Your Soul,” and “44 Holistic Tips for Peaceful Sleep,” Keri Nola is a highly regarded psychotherapist, and Founder of Path To Growth LLC, an integrative healing center based in Central Florida. She combines traditional and holistic techniques to create products and experiences that help people access their inner wisdom and create a healthy mind, body and spirit to live their most inspired lives. Her real life experience paired with her extensive education and work background makes her a compassionate, balanced, and sought-after professional in the areas of personal and spiritual growth and development. For more information, visit; follow Keri on Twitter @PathtoGrowth; or on Facebook

Positive Activities Can Help Relieve Depression

Experts found a new, low-cost method to treat mild depression – teaching people to practice positive activities.

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside and Duke University Medical Center termed the approach Positive Activity Interventions (PAI), in a paper published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

PAIs are intentional activities, such as performing acts of kindness, practicing optimism and counting one’s blessings, and researchers believe this has the potential to benefit depressed individuals who don’t respond to pharmacotherapy or are not able or willing to obtain treatment, according to the report.

Led by Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, professor of psychology and director of the Positive Psychology Laboratory at University of California – Riverside; and Lihong Wang, MD, and P. Murali Doraiswamy, MBBS, FRCP, of Duke University, the research team reviewed previous studies done on PAIs, including randomized, controlled interventions with thousands of normal men and women, as well as functional MRI scans in people with depressive symptoms.

“Over the last several decades, social psychology studies of flourishing individuals who are happy, optimistic and grateful have produced a lot of new information about the benefits of positive activity interventions on mood and well-being,” Lyubomirsky said in the report.

Although the paper found that positive activity interventions are effective in teaching individuals ways to increase their positive thinking, positive effect and positive behaviors, only two studies specifically tested these activities in individuals with mild depression.

In one of these studies, lasting improvements were found for six months, and effective PAIs used in the study included writing letters of gratitude, counting one’s blessings, practicing optimism, performing acts of kindness, meditating on positive feelings toward others and using one’s signature strengths.

People often underestimate the long-term impact of practicing brief, positive activities, Lyubomirsky said. Additionally, during the research, reviewing brain imaging studies led the team to the theory that PAIs may act to boost the dampened reward/pleasure circuit mechanisms and reverse apathy – a key benefit that does not usually arise from treatment with medication alone, the study stated.

“The positive activities themselves aren’t really new,” said Kristin Layous, a graduate student and the paper’s lead author. “After all, humans have been counting their blessings, dreaming optimistically, writing thank-you notes, and doing acts of kindness for thousands of years. What’s new is the scientific rigor that researchers have applied to measuring benefits and understanding why they work.”