Depression, Anxiety & Exercise

We all know that exercise is good for our bodies, but did you know that exercise may help you manage anxiety and reduce the effects of depression? People who exercise regularly enjoy a greater feeling of well-being and may experience less anxiety and depression than people who do not exercise. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise causes the brain to release neurotransmitters and endorphins that help ease the symptoms of depression. In addition to the feel-good brain chemicals (endorphins and neurotransmitters), exercise increases your body temperature which, according to the Mayo Clinic, may help to calm you. Exercise also reduces the immune system chemicals in your body that can exacerbate symptoms of depression.  Once you begin to see the physical benefits of exercise, such as strengthening your muscles and losing weight, you will also feel better about your physical appearance which will also help to lessen some types of anxiety and depression.

Exercise doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym or work out on the treadmill or elliptical. Any physical activity that gets your blood pumping and causes you to break a sweat is good exercise. Even mowing the law, gardening and other types of yard work, such as raking leaves or shoveling snow, counts as exercise. Even casual exercise, such as walking for 30 minutes every other day, may help you realize less anxiety and improvement in your depression. Improving your diet to include healthy foods such as vegetables and low-fat foods and exercising three to five days each week may have a significant effect on your physical appearance as well as your mood. You don’t have to exercise for a full 30 minutes at any one time. You can exercise in short 10- to 15-minute intervals 2 to 3 times in a day.

Finally, select activities that you enjoy. If you like to play sports,   join your company’s softball or bowling league. Finding a friend for 20 to 30 minutes of handball, racquetball, basketball or tennis two times each week can be a tremendous boost to your mood. You’ll also enjoy the companionship and socializing associated with team sports. Nature lovers might enjoy a walk in a park or for the more adventurous, hiking a nature trail. Swimming is a good way to get exercise and lessen the impact on your joints. Whatever you decide to do, do something fun and stick with it. Soon you should begin to enjoy the many benefits of exercise.

Stress And Weight Gain

Photo Credit: stuartpilbrow CC-BY-SA-2.0

Many people are under stress. Work, social obligations, bills, running the kids here and there can cause a great deal of stress. Often people under stress fail to maintain healthy eating and exercise habits and may gain weight. You may be tempted to stop for fast food on your way to work or skip the gym because you worked late. Even if you do try to eat a balanced diet and exercise, you may still gain weight. Stress triggers a hormone that may actually cause you to gain weight. 
Cortisol is a hormone that is essential for a number of body functions, including maintaining blood pressure, metabolizing carbohydrates for energy and stimulating the release of insulin into the blood stream to keep blood sugar levels stable. Stress causes elevated levels of cortisol in the blood. Excess secretion of cortisol by the adrenal glands stimulates your appetite, which can lead to overeating or unhealthy snacking. 
Elevated cortisol levels may also cause your body to store fat in your abdomen. Belly fat has been linked to diseases, such as stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. The best way to combat stress-related weight gain is to reduce the amount of stress in your life. If that’s not immediately possible, continue eating a healthy diet and get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. Exercise can help combat stress. Take time to relax and care for yourself. Do things that are enjoyable and help you relax. 

Foods for Healthy Skin

Did you know that your skin is the largest organ of your body? The foods we eat and the beverages we drink can have a positive or a negative effect on the appearance of our hair and skin. Our skin protects us from infections, allows us to perceive temperature changes and feel sensations like touching and it helps to regulate body temperature by sweating or shivering. Vitamin B, specifically biotin, is necessary for healthy growth of your skin and hair. Vitamin A is required for proper healing. Foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals can help maintain skin health and help maintain a youthful appearance.
Photo Credit: Jeff Kubina  CC-BY-SA-2 2005
Fruits and berries are rich in antioxidants that help stave off skin damage from free radicals in your diet. In addition to tasting great, blueberries can help prevent premature aging of your skin. Fresh, raw blueberries are best. Kiwi is also rich in nutrients to protect your skin health. Eat fresh berries and fruit plain as a snack or add fresh blueberries to a salad or a cup of yogurt for extra skin protective nutrients. Yogurt is rich in calcium, which is also needed for healthy skin, hair, teeth and bones. Nuts, like walnuts, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E. Try some raw as a snack or on your favorite salad.
Spinach is one of the most nutritious of the leafy green vegetables. Among the many nutrients found in spinach are antioxidants. It also contains a generous quantity of lutein for healthy eyes. Vitamin B, Vitamin C and Vitamin E are all found in spinach. Potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium are essential minerals that you can get when you eat spinach.
Seafood, such as oysters and fresh wild salmon, are packed with zinc which is essential to cell repair. Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which keep the skin from appearing dry and flaky. Selenium, also found in salmon and oysters, helps prevent skin damage from exposure to the ultraviolet rays of the sun.
Tomatoes have been promoted as a good source of the antioxidant lycopene. Lycopene is absorbed into the body more easily from cooked or processed tomatoes than from eating raw tomatoes. Drink tomato juice and  enjoy tomato sauce over whole wheat pasta, which is a tasty way to nourish and protect your skin, hair and nails.
The easiest way to protect your skin and maintain a healthy, youthful appearance is to drink plenty of water and eat a balanced diet. Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and seafood to ensure you are getting all the nutrition you need to keep your skin young and glowing.
For more information see:
American Academy of Dermatology (2007, November 9). What To Eat For Glowing Healthy Skin. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 15, 2011,