Finally a study validates what I have been telling students and clients for the longest time: movement makes mind/body health much better! Rather than focusing on burning fat or altering shapes, a daily commitment to simply move, as scientists continue to confirm, will lead to an instant shift in mood.

According to a New York Times article (6/19/2010), Laura Blue writes that exercise “…not only relieves depressive symptoms, but appears to prevent them from recurring”.

Neuroscientist Phillip Holmes reports: “…that exercise is the more normal or natural condition, and that being sedentary is really the abnormal situation…”. This news article further asserts that: “Our brains simply may not be built for an environment without physical activity. Research has also suggested that exercise may be an effective treatment not just for depression, but also against related anxiety disorders and even substance dependence.” (Blue, 2010)

Holmes, along with other researchers “have shown that over the course of several weeks, exercise can switch on certain genes that increase the brain’s level of galanin, a peptide neurotransmitter that appears to tone down the body’s stress response by regulating another brain chemical, norepinephrine.”

So, the best thing offered at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology for health and well-being is free, accessible and state of the art: the Harbor Club! There are also free yoga classes on campus available.

In case there is wonderment about how often to move, Blue cites a reference guide in Exercise for Mood and Anxiety Disorders (Oxford University Press, 2009) authored by Jasper Smiths and Michael Otto. In addition to other treatment strategies the following are recommended doses of exercise that have been tested in repeated trials for treating depression:

“30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, like walking, five times per week, or 30 minutes of high-intensity aerobic exercise three times a week.”

As for me, some favorite forms of physical activity include swimming at the break of dawn or under a dark moon lit sky, bike riding, dancing in my living room and yoga stretches. Hopefully finding something that is enjoyable comes with ease, where there is anticipated joy to keep on moving and “keep on, keeping on!” (Curtis Mayfield, 1972)