“Why is it that nutrition and fitness are ignored as part of mental health treatment?” asked fitness blogger Amanda Webster in a recent post. “If we want to reduce our stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression, we are immediately drawn to taking pills without any reflection as to why these things might be afflicting us in the first place.”
Many studies show that physically active people are less likely to become depressed, and that exercise can be beneficial in reducing depression. In 2019, a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators used a novel research method to strongly support physical activity as a preventive measure for depression.
“Using genetic data, we found evidence that higher levels of physical activity may causally reduce risk for depression,” said Karmel Choi, Ph.D., the lead author of the report. “Knowing whether an associated factor actually causes an outcome is important because we want to invest in preventive strategies that really work.”
“On average,” Choi said, “doing more physical activity appears to protect against developing depression. Any activity appears to be better than none; our rough calculations suggest that replacing sitting with 15 minutes of a heart-pumping activity like running, or with an hour of moderately vigorous activity, is enough to produce the average increase in accelerometer data that was linked to a lower depression risk.”
One very healthy way to raise your heart rate and your mood: take a hike!
“A number of small studies hint that spending time in green space — nature preserves, woodlands, and even urban parks — may ease people’s stress levels,” reported Julie Corliss
on the Harvard Health Blog. “Giving the growing consensus that stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease risk, anything you can do to mitigate stress is likely helpful.”
At Recovery Ways, recreational therapy plays a pivotal role in our holistic care. It helps patients manage internal and external triggers, develop competence, confidence, relational skills, and independence. Recreation is a safe and natural way to counter the effects of depression, reduce anxiety, increase connection, and support overall well-being.
Utah’s spectacular landscape and abundant recreational facilities offer year-round opportunities for fun, rejuvenation, clarity, relaxation, and reconnecting to what is truly important. Local mountains provide access to the country’s best powder snow. Nearby lakes, rivers, and canyons offer extraordinary natural beauty that calms the soul and offers endless adventure. Seasonal recreational activities at Recovery Ways include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing, biking, sailing, and other outdoor activities.
In addition to our acclaimed addiction treatment program, Recovery Ways has recently created a standalone mental health program for those struggling with depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other mood disorders but without a substance use disorder (SUD) diagnosis. Our trauma-informed, clinically integrated treatment program has made us a trusted partner with patients, referents, and payers for more than a decade.
We would love the opportunity to support you on our journey to lifelong recovery. Please call us today at 888.988.5217.