Robin Williams’ passing has once again brought attention to the pervasive culture of depression that plagues our nation. In the last 20 years, anti-depressant use has increased by over 300%, with 1 in 5 Americans taking some sort of psychiatric medication daily. Pharmaceutical companies have risen to the top of the economic food chain and peddle hundreds of products that are promised as cures to our imbalances, but the solution is much simpler. Our bodies have a natural ability to fight depression, but we have to actively use it for it to make a difference in our lives.

Natural Technique as Effective as Zoloft

In a recent series of studies at Duke University, researchers found that 30 minutes of brisk walking 3 times per week was equally effective in treating depression as a leading antidepressant, Zoloft. Not only were exercising subjects relieved of their depressive symptoms in less time than the Zoloft needed to take effect, but when researchers revisited these subjects after the study, the exercisers were much less likely to relapse into their negative emotional patterns. Participants who were taking Zoloft showed no improvement in their ability to fight depression despite continued drug use.

Holistic Benefits of Exercise

Whenever we exercise, our brain releases endorphins. These chemicals act as feel-good stimuli and promote a sense of physical and emotional wellbeing. Beyond endorphins, exercise also has dozens of documented benefits for our brain health. When we exercise, our brain is stimulated to produce more brain cells to replace older ones. This improves our mental abilities and prevents hundreds of degenerative conditions related to memory, blood flow throughout the brain, and many of our brain’s critical functions.

Increasing your Happiness

Beyond the physiological benefits of exercise, there are many reasons why exercise can help us get out of a bad place. Literally, it can get you out of the house and into the world again. Spend time taking care of your body and you can improve your self-worth by making visible changes to your quality of life. The most valuable resource we have in life is our health. Step outside, absorb some sunshine, and force your body to do what it was designed for. Finding a natural balance in your life will do much more to fight a chemical imbalance in your brain than any prescription medication you can swallow.