By Troy Rampy, Editor, The Wellness Blog™
In the spirit of walking my talk (literally), I’ve just returned from the first session of my new walking class at the local community college. No, as my recent college-grad daughter taunts, the purpose of the class is not to teach us how to walk…right-left-right. This class provides an opportunity to improve my overall health as well as my aerobic and cardiovascular capacity.
By the end of this brief nine-week class, I’ll hopefully be able to go a little farther, more quickly, and with less effort over some of the glorious patchwork of trails we have here on the western slope of the Sierras. These same trails are where our “class” will be held as we take on incrementally more strenuous walks each week.
I’ve been waiting for the start of this class to ramp up my challenge to the adult-onset of asthma I’ve dealt with for the past 25 years. I’ve participated in other aerobic/cardio classes and activities over the years, and it’s always a welcome gift to be able to learn new tricks and share this kind of exercise experience with others.
As a result of aerobic exercise, improved nutrition, appropriate lifestyle adjustments, and proper medical supervision, my asthma is better now than it’s been in over two decades. Huzzah! But there are more benefits that I’m likely to derive from my walking class than improving my asthma and aerobic/cardio capacity.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing about something else that is directly impacted by exercise. As I participate in my walking class, I want to give you a “from the trenches” report on how exercise affects my mood and outlook.
In addition to periodically exploring ways to raise our personal vibration…the topic I introduced with my last blog entry…I’m going to be writing concurrently in the weeks to come about the debilitating effects of depression. Why on earth would I do that? Because it’s another side of the same coin. As we alter and upgrade each of the lifestyle factors that affect depression, we simultaneously raise our personal vibration, and vice versa.
I don’t consider myself to be depressed, at least not currently. But I want to see how much difference exercise can make with my mood, outlook and energy levels. I’ll be the lab rat. Just think “Supersize Me”, only in a positive sense. I’ll report back to you how I’m doing each week in addition to providing some easy-to-use techniques for eradicating depression that you can apply directly to you own life.
Depression is a significant problem today, and it’s getting worse. It’s estimated that more than 19 million people in the U.S. currently suffer from clinical depression, with approximately 200 million individuals affected worldwide. The cost of depression in the U.S. alone is estimated at over $70 billion per year in treatment, disability, and lost productivity. Yes, that’s billion with a “b”.
The chances are increasingly high that you currently have, or have had, or will have at least one of the symptoms of depression yourself. Why? Because our post-modern culture is not a healthy environment, in fact it’s quite toxic. And it’s directly affecting us in ways we may not even realize. I’m referring to the quality of our food, our water, our air, our sedentary lifestyles, our media-generated values, our isolation and the break down in our social structures, our lack of regard and care for the environment, the fast-paced time pressures and demands of our work, our addictions, and more.
Over time, these combined toxic influences begin to have an effect on us. How could they not? We’re surrounded by them. They infuse our life, our energy field, our body, our conscious as well as our subconscious mind. Depression is a natural…and healthy (!)…response to the toxic energies of our contemporary culture. An unhealthy response would be to give up completely, to become catatonic, or mentally deranged. So while it may sound strange, give thanks for your depression. Think of it as your interim coping mechanism.
We can’t change the culture…well, at least not any time soon. But there is something we can do about depression. And the solution is easier, healthier, more cost efficient, and more effective than you might think. More about that in a minute…
According to Neil Nedley, M.D., a well respected expert in the field of depression, there are nine symptoms* of major depression. You might want to note how many apply to you:
- Deep sadness or emptiness
- Agitation or restlessness
- Sleep disturbances
- Weight/appetite disturbances
- Lack of concentration
- Feelings of excessive guilt or worthlessness
- Morbid thoughts…including suicide
While there may be only nine symptoms, Dr. Nedley estimates there are over 100 causes of depression. Luckily, these causes can be broken down into 10 categories. I’ll be looking at these categories over the next few weeks in my blog…and looking at what changes you and I can make to reduce, and hopefully eliminate, most of the factors that cause depression, as we also raise our personal vibration!
It’s encouraging to know that eight of the ten causes of depression are lifestyle related. And all of those can be changed. Here’s a hint: taking long, brisk walks is one of the things you can do to reduce the effects of depression. It has the potential for improving your fitness and emotional levels in a relatively short amount of time. Start off easy, and eventually get up to about an hour of walking four or more days a week. Or join me in my walking class…right, left, right.
*From his book Depression: the Way Out, Neil Nedley, M.D., 2001, Nedley Publishing