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Exercise Can Improve Your Mood
last updated:
Mon, 3/28/2011 4:45 PM

Exercise seems like the last thing you want to do when you are depressed or feeling blue. But once you get motivated, exercise can make a big difference.  Exercise helps prevent and improve a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. Research shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help  improve mood.

How does exercise help depression? Exercise probably helps ease depression in a number of ways, which may include:

  • Releasing feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters and endorphins)
  • Reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression
  • Increasing body temperature, which may have calming effects
  • Doing something positive to manage depression is a healthy coping strategy.

What kind of exercise is best?
The word "exercise" may make you think of running laps around the gym. But a wide range of activities that boost your activity level help you feel better. Certainly running, lifting weights, playing basketball and other fitness activities that get your heart pumping can help. But so can gardening, washing your car, or strolling around the block and other less intense activities. Anything that gets you off the couch and moving is exercise that can help improve your mood.

You don't have to do all your exercise at once, either. Add small amounts of physical activity throughout your day. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park a little farther away at work to fit in a short walk.

Take time to take care of yourself and do activities that you enjoy that will get you moving and make you feel better.

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Dawn Caldwell is a Physical Therapist in Memphis, Tennessee with Methodist Healthcare. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Call 888.777.5959 for more information.

Be Your Own Best Valentine!
last updated:
Tue, 1/25/2011 5:16 PM

V- is for Vigor: Get out there and exercise three times a week, even if it’s just walking. Get off the couch and start moving. Exercise lowers blood pressure, decreases bad cholesterol, burns calories, adds muscle, and increases bone strength. (See your doctor before beginning a new exercise program)

A - Acceptance: Accept others for who they are. You can’t change them, so change your attitude towards them so that you can learn to be happy around them. Who knows–your acceptance may be all it needs for them to make changes. 

L - is for Laughter:  Spend time laughing with family and friends.  Laughing increases the “feel good” hormone in your brain which improves your overall well-being. It also makes those around you feel better. 

E - Eat breakfast: Breakfast jump starts your day. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. It gives you energy to start your day and is linked to many healthy benefits. A good healthy breakfast has been shown to improve weight control, improve concentration in the classroom and the boardroom, provide energy for physical activity, and improve overall intake of nutrients and vitamins.

N - Neatness: Hmmm. Some people don’t like to hear that one, but being organized can help you function better in your home and at work. 

  1. You can better manage your time and prioritize your daily chores. These things tend to fall into place when working within deadlines and limits.
  2. It will reduce clutter. We can start to get rid of “stuff” and keep the things that are needed and quit accumulating more clutter.
  3. It will help you set and achieve personal goals. Make lists of the things you have to do and the things you want to do. As each day passes, you will be closer to your goals.
  4. You will learn to focus on the big picture; making sure you have room in your life for the important things that really matter to you.

T - is for Time Management:  Work on finding a balance between your work and home life. In the age of smart phones and laptops, people are working longer hours than ever before often without even realizing it. Do you answer your phone at the dinner table? Check your work email while sitting with your family? Stop that.

I - Interest: Find things that interest you and stimulate your mind. This can be a new hobby such as reading, painting, music, taking a new class, etc…the options are endless. The more interested you become in increasing your thinking power, the more interesting you become.

N - Nurture: Nurture yourself, so you can do the same for others. If you are in the midst of a crisis, take some time out and spend it nurturing yourself. Get a massage, a facial, a manicure, a haircut, relax in the park with a book, meet up with an old friend, or anything that helps you to relax...Remind yourself that underneath all that stress you are a person. Treat yourself. When was the last time you nurtured yourself? It makes a difference in how you are able to nurture others.

E - Enjoy life to the fullest: Make the most of each day. Notice life going on around you. Spend some time in it. Whether you’re headed to work or at home with your family–what can you do to make this the best day possible? If you approach each day with this attitude, it becomes infectious and others want to have the joy that you have.

Make a difference in your own life, become your own best Valentine!

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Gale Dering is the Clinic Manager for the Methodist Minor Medical Center on Hacks Cross Road. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Call 888.777.5959 for more information.

Heart Disease Prevention
last updated:
Fri, 11/05/2010 10:24 AM

Weight gain and and an inactive lifestyle can influence heart diseases. These also increase the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and increased blood cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease. Knowing how to maintain or lose weight and also to maintain cardiac (heart) fitness is important.

Tips on Calories:

  1. The formula for losing or gaining weight is generally simple. If you burn more calories than you take in, you'll lose weight because the calories are used up and your body begins burning fat instead. If you take in more calories than you burn, the extra calories are converted to fat and are stored in the body.
  2. Use up at least as many calories as you take in.   
  3. Find out how many calories you should be eating and drinking to maintain your weight. 
  4. Don’t eat more calories than you know you can burn up every day. 
  5. Increase the amount and intensity of your physical activity to match the number of calories you take in. 
  6. Regular physical activity can help you maintain your weight, keep off weight that you lose and help you reach physical and cardiovascular fitness. 
  7. For weight maintenance, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. If you can’t do at least 30 minutes at one time, you can add up 10-minute sessions throughout the day.

Tips on Physical Activity:

  1. Being active brings many benefits for your heart and your health.
  2. Regular exercise improves blood pressure and blood sugar levels
  3. It also reduces risk for diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, depression, and colon and breast cancer
  4. Try to live an active lifestyle: incorporate as much physical movement into your usual daily activities as you can. For example, decide to take the stairs instead of riding the elevator; try not to drive to a nearby shop, and instead try walking to the shop. 
  5. How much activity do you need?  At least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week. For losing weight, 30 to 60 minutes moderate physical activity is required on most days.

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Dr. Santhosh K.G. Koshy, DM, FACC, FSCAI is the Director of Interventional Cardiology and Director of UT services at Methodist Healthcare and the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis, Tenn. All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice. Call 888.777.5959 for more information.

Make Exercise a Family Affair
last updated:
Fri, 7/23/2010 1:51 PM

An estimated one in five American children is overweight, according to the National Institutes of Health. Serving them healthier meals and exercising as a family can improve their short- and long-term health.

Being obese increases a child's risk for several serious childhood medical problems, including diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, and psychological disorders. And, in addition to childhood health risks, studies have found overweight kids are at greater risk of becoming obese adults, with all the health problems associated with obesity lasting through the life span.

Excessive "screen time" has been identified as a direct cause of obesity in children because it replaces physical activity, increases eating, and reduces metabolism.

Get 'em up

Like adults, children should be physically active most, if not all, days of the week. Experts suggest at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity daily for most children. Running, bicycling, jumping rope, dancing, and playing basketball or soccer are good ways for them to be active.

These strategies can help you help your kids get a move on:

  • Don't call it "exercise." Instead, promote "playtime" and encourage activities that are fun and physical, such as hopscotch or jumping rope.

  • Find out what your children like to do and make this a focus of your family activities.

  • Participate in community fitness events, such as charity walks or fun-runs.

  • Use family walks or bike rides as a time to do more than just exercise together. Talk about school and family issues when you're taking a break.

  • Relive your childhood by playing the games you loved as a kid. Play tag, Red Rover, hide-and-seek, or any other fast-moving game.

  • Plan outings that involve physical activity, such as going to a skating rink, the zoo, or a miniature golf course.

  • Turn chores into games. Try raking leaves and jumping in the piles. Have a water fight while washing the car. Pretend you're digging for treasure while gardening.

  • Invite neighborhood kids to play games that require more participants, such as capture the flag or kickball.

But the best way for you to help your children get more exercise is to join in.

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All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and not of their employer. Information provided here is for medical education only. It is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice.

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Methodist Healthcare is an integrated health care delivery system, dedicated to the art of healing through our faith-based commitment to minister to the whole person. 1211 Union Avenue, Memphis, Tennessee 38104 • (901) 516-7000

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