Caring for a Loved One with Dementia: Insights from Bruce Willis’ Journey

Dementia is a condition that affects not only the person diagnosed but also their entire circle of family and friends. Recently, the world learned about Hollywood actor Bruce Willis’ diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia, offering an opportunity to explore the essential aspects of caring for a loved one with dementia. In this article, our primary care doctors in Jupiter delve into the challenges and insights that come with dementia caregiving, drawing inspiration from Willis’ situation and the compassionate approach of his family.

Understanding Dementia Care

Caring for someone with dementia is a deeply emotional and often exhausting experience. Dementia is not a single disease but a set of cognitive impairments, each person’s experience is unique. To provide effective care, one must understand the nature of the condition and its progression.

  1. Education is Key

Just as Emma Heming, Bruce Willis’ wife, emphasized the importance of educating their children about dementia, caregivers should also educate themselves. Understanding the specific type of dementia, its symptoms, and its progression can help caregivers better anticipate and manage challenges.

  1. Open and Honest Communication

Heming’s approach to open and honest communication is invaluable. It helps demystify dementia, reduce stigma, and create a supportive environment. Caregivers should encourage their loved ones to express their feelings and thoughts, even as dementia progresses.

  1. Patience and Flexibility

Dementia can lead to mood swings, confusion, and agitation. Patience is a crucial virtue for caregivers, as well as the ability to adapt to changing situations. What works one day may not work the next, and flexibility is key to providing the best care.

  1. Routine and Structure

Creating a daily routine can help individuals with dementia feel more secure and oriented. Establishing a familiar schedule for meals, activities, and rest can provide comfort and reduce anxiety.

  1. Safety Measures

As dementia progresses, individuals may become prone to wandering or forget to turn off appliances. Ensuring a safe living environment by installing locks and alarms, and removing potential hazards, is essential.

  1. Seek Professional Help

Caregiving can be overwhelming, and it’s crucial for caregivers to acknowledge their own limits. Professional assistance, such as home health aides, support groups, or respite care, can provide much-needed relief and support.

  1. Self-Care

Caregivers must prioritize self-care to maintain their own physical and emotional well-being. Neglecting self-care can lead to caregiver burnout, which ultimately affects the quality of care provided.

Bruce Willis’ Journey as an Inspiration

Bruce Willis’ battle with dementia, as shared by his friend Glenn Gordon Caron, serves as a poignant reminder that dementia does not diminish a person’s essence. Despite cognitive decline, individuals with dementia retain their core qualities. Caregivers should strive to see and appreciate these qualities, just as Caron continues to do.

Conclusion

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a challenging and emotional journey, but it can also be a deeply rewarding one. Bruce Willis’ experience sheds light on the importance of empathy, communication, and education in dementia caregiving. By understanding the nature of the condition, adopting a compassionate approach, and seeking support when needed, caregivers can provide the best possible care to their loved ones, helping them navigate the complexities of dementia with dignity and grace.

Weight Loss Drugs: What You Need to Know About New Findings on Severe Stomach Problems

Many patients turn to medication as a potential solution in the quest for weight loss solutions. Among the popular choices are drugs like Wegovy, Ozempic, and Rybelsus. While their effectiveness in weight loss and diabetes management is well-known, a recent study from the University of British Columbia has shed light on potential severe gastrointestinal side effects.

Here’s what you should know.

1. A Brief Overview of GLP-1 Agonist Weightloss Drugs:

These drugs mimic the action of a gut hormone activated after eating, enhancing insulin release, suppressing sugar production in the liver, and reducing appetite. They have been widely prescribed for diabetes management, but their use for weight loss in non-diabetic patients has grown significantly.

2. Previous Concerns with Digestive Issues:

Past research indicated some risk of digestive problems for diabetes patients using these medications. However, this new study provides the first large-scale insight into these effects on non-diabetic patients using them solely for weight loss.

3. The New Findings:

  • 9.09 times increased risk of pancreatitis.
  • 4.22 times increased risk of bowel obstruction.
  • 3.67 times higher risk of gastroparesis.

While an increase in biliary disease was observed, it wasn’t statistically significant.

4. The Implications:

The sheer number of individuals using these drugs worldwide means that, even if these side effects are rare, hundreds of thousands might still experience these conditions. Understanding the risks becomes vital, especially for those who might be using the medications for general weight loss rather than for diabetes or obesity.

5. The Call to Action:

Researchers hope that pharmaceutical companies and regulatory bodies, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will include the risk of gastroparesis on warning labels.

Conclusion:

Drugs can be a powerful tool in the journey towards better health and weight loss. However, as with all medical interventions, being informed is crucial. The potential side effects, while rare, can be severe. Patients must weigh the benefits against the risks and make an informed decision.

“Knowing the potential side effects is critical. It empowers patients to seek medical attention promptly and prevent further complications,” says Sodhi, emphasizing the importance of this new research. As always, consulting with your healthcare provider is recommended before starting or stopping any medication.

What Diabetes Does to Your Eyes and What You Can Do About It

Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects millions worldwide. While many are aware of its impact on blood sugar levels and its potential complications related to the heart, kidneys, and nerves, our concierge doctors in Jupiter want you to understand its link to vision. In fact, diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness in adults. But how does this condition affect the eyes, and what can you do to protect your vision?

The Connection Between Diabetes and Eyesight

Our eyes are incredibly intricate and sensitive organs. The clear lens at the front and the retina, a thin layer of tissue lining the back of the eye, play vital roles in our ability to see. When blood sugar levels surge, as they often do in diabetes, these structures can be adversely affected.

Diabetic Eye Diseases

There are several eye conditions tied to diabetes:

  • Diabetic Retinopathy: This is the most common diabetic eye disease. High blood sugar levels can cause damage to the blood vessels in the retina, making them leak or hemorrhage. Over time, this can lead to vision impairment or blindness.
  • Diabetic Macular Edema (DME): A consequence of diabetic retinopathy, DME involves swelling in the macula, the part of the retina responsible for clear, sharp vision.
  • Glaucoma: Diabetes doubles the risk of glaucoma, a condition where increased pressure inside the eye damages the optic nerve.
  • Cataracts: Those with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts at a younger age and the progression can be faster than in those without diabetes.

Preventing Eye Complications

Thankfully, you’re not powerless against these potential complications. Here are steps you can take:

  • Regular Eye Check-ups: Schedule a comprehensive eye exam at least once a year. Early detection is the key to successful management and treatment.
  • Control Blood Sugar Levels: Monitor your blood sugar levels diligently and follow your doctor’s advice regarding medication, diet, and exercise.
  • Manage Blood Pressure and Cholesterol: High blood pressure and cholesterol can exacerbate eye problems in diabetics. Regular check-ups and medication can help keep these in check.
  • Avoid Smoking: Smoking can accelerate complications related to diabetes, including those that affect your eyes.
  • Protect Your Eyes: Use sunglasses with UV protection and avoid activities that risk eye injury.
  • Know the Symptoms: Be aware of vision changes such as blurry vision, floaters, frequent prescription changes, or any vision loss. Report these to your ophthalmologist immediately.

Treatment Options

If you’re diagnosed with a diabetic eye disease, treatment options can vary based on the severity of the condition:

  • Laser Therapy: Used for diabetic retinopathy to reduce the leakage of abnormal blood vessels.
  • Vitrectomy: A procedure to remove the gel-like substance inside the eye, often used when there’s bleeding or significant scar tissue from diabetic retinopathy.
  • Injections: Medications can be injected into the eye to reduce swelling and improve vision.
  • Surgery: In advanced cases of glaucoma or cataracts, surgical interventions might be necessary.

Diabetes doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have eye problems, but it does increase the risk. With proactive measures, regular check-ups, and early detection, many diabetic eye diseases can be managed or even prevented. Protecting your eyes starts with understanding the link between your health and your vision, and taking action to ensure both remain in optimal condition.

Understanding Different Heat Illnesses

As the temperatures rise during the warmer months, many of us enjoy spending more time outdoors. However, with the increase in temperatures comes the potential risk of heat-related illnesses. Our primary care doctors in Jupiter want you to be informed about the different types of heat illnesses to prevent them and to provide proper care if someone is affected.

1. Heat Stroke

What it is: Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat illness and is a medical emergency. It happens when the body’s temperature rises rapidly, and it can’t cool down.

Symptoms:

  • High body temperature (above 103°F)
  • Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
  • Fast, strong pulse
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Losing consciousness (passing out)

What to do: Call 911 immediately. While waiting for medical professionals, move the person to a cooler place and try to reduce their body temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath. Do not give the person anything to drink.

2. Heat Exhaustion

What it is: Heat exhaustion is a warning that your body can no longer keep itself cool. If left untreated, it can escalate to heat stroke.

Symptoms:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fainting

What to do: Move to a cool place, loosen your clothes, put cool, wet clothes on your body or take a cool bath. If the person is fully conscious, they can sip water. If the symptoms worsen or last longer than an hour, seek medical attention.

3. Heat Cramps

What it is: Muscle spasms or pains that occur due to intense exercise in hot weather.

Symptoms:

  • Muscle cramps, usually in the legs or abdomen
  • Heavy sweating

What to do: Stop the activity and move to a cool place. Drink water or a sports drink. Wait for the cramps to go away before you do any more physical activity.

4. Heat Rash

What it is: Skin irritation from excessive sweating.

Symptoms:

  • Red clusters of small blisters that look like pimples on the skin
  • Usually appears on the neck, chest, groin, or elbow creases

What to do: Stay in a cool, dry place. Keep the rash dry and avoid using ointments or creams as they can keep the skin warm and moist, worsening the condition.

5. Dehydration

What it is: A lack of enough water in the body, often caused by too much sweating.

Symptoms:

  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Dark yellow urine
  • Not urinating much
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Feeling tired
  • Dry skin

What to do: Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water. If dehydration is severe and accompanied by symptoms like confusion, rapid heartbeat, or rapid breathing, seek medical attention immediately.

Prevention Tips

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol as they can dehydrate you.
  • Dress Appropriately: Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Use a wide-brimmed hat or an umbrella for shade.
  • Stay Cool: Avoid direct sunlight whenever possible, especially during the hottest parts of the day. Use fans or air conditioning to cool down.
  • Limit Outdoor Activities: Do strenuous activities during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening.

By understanding the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and taking preventive measures, you can safely enjoy the warm weather without the health risks. Always listen to your body, and if you or someone around you is showing signs of a heat illness, take it seriously and seek medical attention if needed.

Understanding Personalized Medicine: Empowering the Future of Healthcare

Healthcare is constantly evolving, with new breakthroughs and developments making it more accessible, efficient, and precise. In this pursuit of advancement, personalized medicine has emerged as a game-changer. By tailoring healthcare to each patient’s unique needs, our concierge medical doctors in Jupiter are redefining our approach to disease prevention, detection, and treatment.

Personalized medicine, also known as precision medicine, takes into account the individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle of each person. This approach allows doctors to predict more accurately which treatment and prevention strategies for a particular disease will work for specific groups of people. It’s a shift away from a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to medical care.

The Role of Genomics

One of the pillars of personalized medicine is genomics – the study of a person’s genes (the genome) and their interactions with each other and the person’s environment. With the increasing accessibility and affordability of genome sequencing, genomics is rapidly becoming an integral part of healthcare.

Through genomics, we can identify genetic predispositions to certain diseases and conditions. This information allows for early detection, even before any symptoms appear, and early intervention can significantly improve outcomes. In some cases, understanding a person’s genetic makeup can help doctors select treatments that will be most effective and cause the least side effects, a practice known as pharmacogenomics.

Lifestyle and Environment

Genetics is just part of the story. Lifestyle and environmental factors also play a significant role in disease onset and progression. Personalized medicine aims to consider these aspects to provide optimal care. Diet, exercise habits, stress levels, and exposure to toxins – all of these influence our health.

By analyzing these factors alongside genetic information, personalized medicine can deliver comprehensive healthcare plans tailored to each individual. This may include recommendations for lifestyle adjustments to reduce disease risk or manage a chronic condition more effectively.

The Future is Here

Personalized medicine is not a distant, futuristic concept – it’s here now, and it’s reshaping healthcare as we know it. At MD 2.0 Concierge Medical Office, we fully embrace this approach. We’re committed to providing personalized, precision healthcare to our patients, combining the latest in genomic understanding with a comprehensive view of lifestyle and environmental factors.

Through advanced genetic testing, personalized risk assessments, and a proactive approach to health management, we provide healthcare that’s as unique as you are. We believe that personalized medicine is not just about treating disease, but about fostering wellness and health at every stage of life.

The potential of personalized medicine is vast, and it’s an exciting time to be part of the medical field. As we continue to explore and understand more about our complex genetic makeup and the factors that influence our health, we’ll be able to provide even more precise, effective, and personalized care to our patients.

By embracing personalized medicine, we’re not just reacting to disease, but proactively promoting health. We’re not just treating patients, but caring for individuals. And we believe that’s the future of healthcare.

Improve Your Nutrition with these Simple Steps 

Nutrition plays a crucial role in providing the necessary nutrients for our bodies to function properly. These essential nutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals. Carbohydrates provide energy, proteins are vital for tissue growth and repair, fats contribute to insulation and organ protection, while vitamins and minerals are required for various bodily functions, such as building strong bones, maintaining a healthy immune system, and supporting heart and brain health.

A balanced and healthy diet, consisting of a variety of foods from different food groups, ensures that our bodies receive all the necessary nutrients. Proper nutrition not only helps to maintain healthy body weight but also reduces the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. On the other hand, a poor diet lacking essential nutrients can lead to malnutrition and various health problems. Therefore, good nutrition is essential for overall health and well-being.

There are several ways to improve your nutrition, including:

  • Encouraging a balanced diet: Consume a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. A balanced diet provides the necessary nutrients for the body to function properly.
  • Ensuring adequate hydration: Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and other fluids. This helps prevent dehydration, which can lead to health problems.
  • Providing smaller, more frequent meals: Instead of large meals, consider offering smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day, especially for adults. This ensures they receive the necessary nutrients without feeling overwhelmed.
  • Offering nutrient-dense snacks: Opt for nutrient-dense snacks such as fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. These snacks boost energy levels and provide essential nutrients.

In conclusion, in addition to prioritizing good nutrition, it is beneficial to seek guidance and support from primary care concierge doctors in Jupiter. These healthcare professionals specialize in personalized care and can offer valuable insights and recommendations tailored to individual needs. Collaborating with primary care doctors can further enhance one’s journey toward optimal nutrition and overall health. By combining their expertise with the principles of a balanced diet, hydration, and nutrient-dense snacks, individuals can receive comprehensive care that addresses their unique requirements and fosters long-term well-being. Together, the commitment to sound nutrition and the assistance of primary care concierge doctors empower patients to lead fulfilling and healthy lives.

Why is Elderly Nutrition So Important?

If our primary care concierge doctors in Jupiter could choose the most important thing for elderly care, it would be nutrition. Elderly nutrition is crucial because as we age, our bodies undergo changes that make it more challenging to obtain the nutrients we need to stay healthy.  

Older Age Means More Changes

As we age, our metabolism slows down, our digestive system becomes less efficient, and our senses of taste and smell may diminish, which leads to a reduced appetite and a decreased interest in eating.

Additionally, older adults are more likely to have chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis, which can all be affected by diet. Proper nutrition can help manage these conditions, prevent complications, and improve overall quality of life.

Get the Good Stuff

Good nutrition is essential for maintaining muscle mass and bone density, which can help prevent falls and fractures. A balanced diet that includes adequate protein, calcium, and vitamin D is crucial for older adults to maintain strong bones and muscles.

Elderly nutrition is essential for several reasons:

  1. Health: Proper nutrition is essential for maintaining good health, especially as we age. A balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from all food groups helps to provide the necessary nutrients for good health, such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
  2. Chronic Diseases: Good nutrition can help prevent or manage chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis, which are more common in older adults.
  3. Immune System: Adequate nutrition is crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system, which can help protect against infectious diseases and illnesses.
  4. Mental health: Good nutrition impacts mental health, such as reducing the risk of depression and cognitive decline.
  5. Quality of Life: Proper nutrition can improve the quality of life for older adults by increasing energy levels, maintaining a healthy weight, and improving overall physical and mental well-being.

Overall, elderly nutrition is essential for maintaining good health, preventing chronic diseases, and improving the quality of life in older adults. 

Water Flavor Social Media Trend: Healthy?

Now that summer is officially here, our primary care concierge doctors in Jupiter want to bring to your attention the new “water trend” trending all over social media. 

In recent years, a new trend has emerged on social media: adding flavorings to water in order to make it more appealing and encourage people to drink more of it. This trend has been popularized by influencers and fitness enthusiasts who promote the idea that adding flavors to water can help individuals to stay hydrated and improve their overall health. However, the question remains: is this trend healthy?

It is Not That Easy

The answer is not straightforward. On the one hand, adding natural flavorings to water can make it more palatable, which may encourage individuals to drink more water throughout the day. Drinking enough water is crucial for maintaining optimal health, as it helps to regulate body temperature, prevent dehydration, and support proper digestion and elimination.

On the other hand, many commercial flavorings that are marketed for adding to water contain added sugars and artificial sweeteners. These ingredients can contribute to the overconsumption of calories, which can lead to weight gain and other health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, artificial sweeteners have been linked to a range of health concerns, including disruption of gut microbiota, increased risk of metabolic disorders, and even cancer.

Moreover, some natural flavorings, such as fruit juices and honey, can also contain high amounts of sugar. While these may be healthier than artificial sweeteners, they should still be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Healthy Flavorful Alternatives

Ultimately, the key to making water more appealing and encouraging adequate hydration is to find a flavoring that is healthy and fits your individual dietary needs. Some healthy options for flavoring water include adding slices of fresh fruit, such as lemon, lime, or cucumber, or infusing water with herbs like mint or basil. These natural flavorings can provide a burst of flavor without adding unnecessary calories or artificial sweeteners.

In conclusion, while adding flavorings to water can be a useful tool for staying hydrated, it is important to choose healthy options that do not contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners. By making this choice, you can reap the benefits of proper hydration without compromising your overall health and well-being.

Free-Range, Cage-Free, Organic: What Do Meat and Egg Labels Mean?

Our primary care concierge doctors in Jupiter know that these days our patients are interested in not just their own health, but also the health of the planet and the welfare of animals. So you try to shop in ways that consciously take all these factors into consideration.

But how do you know what the many bewildering grocery store labels mean? Let us help sort out some of the confusion.

Win-win Practices

According to Treehugger.com, so-called humane farming practices are no more sustainable than those of factory-farmed meats, because the animals raised for food require just as much food and water as those in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). 

On the other hand, as the Cleveland Clinic points out, many of these CAFOs use more chemicals and fertilizers that pollute both the land and water sources, so they’re not as earth-friendly as traditional farming practices.

We’ve often extolled the health advantages of plant-based diets, however, so for now we’ll just say that the fewer meats and meat products you consume, the better for the planet (and your health).

The good thing about taking animal welfare into your buying decisions, however, is that you benefit, as well.

“The alternative to factory-farm meat—grass-fed meat—is not just better for the environment and better for the animals, but better for you, too,” says the Cleveland Clinic’s Functional Medicine Director Mark Hyman.

Grass-fed meat is so nutritionally superior to factor-farmed meat, he adds, that is practically a different food.

Animals raised without antibiotics are another health plus for humans because their rampant use can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, making it harder to treat our own infections.

Sorting Out Labels

Unfortunately, knowing their customers are interested in more humanely raised foods, many manufacturers select labels that may tend to mislead buyers.

For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not regulate the term “pasture-raised.” “Humane” is also not an official term, so it can mean anything.

Consumer Reports (CR) says that the claim “no growth hormones” doesn’t mean the animal was not given antibiotics, or that hogs were not given a non-hormonal growth enhancer called ractopamine. On the other hand, beef labels that say “no hormones” are useful, because cattle can be raised with hormones; however, the USDA does not allow hormones to be used in poultry or pork.

In addition, labels that say “no growth-promoting antibiotics” can also be misleading, because they can still be given to “ensure animal health” or to prevent or control disease, CR says.

Likewise, “natural” simply means that meat has been minimally processed and doesn’t contain any artificial ingredients such as chemical preservatives, spices or sauces, or artificial coloring. As Insider reports, a “natural” egg is simply a real egg that came from a real hen.

Similarly, “farm fresh” means nothing: All meat and eggs come from farms, whether in bucolic outdoor settings or cramped cages on CAFOs. And “Omega-3” doesn’t tell you whether the eggs contain enough of this essential fatty acid.

What They Mean

The labels manufacturers use can be baffling, so here’s a quick guide to the most common meat and egg labels.

Meats

  • Grass-fed: This term gets a little tricky. The USDA’s definition means the meat must come from animals that have never been given grain and have access to pasture during the grazing season. According to CR, however, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) does not inspect these farms, and they can still be raised with antibiotics or hormones.
  • In addition, grass-fed cattle still may not have continuous access to pasture and may spend at least a part of their lives confined to a feedlot.
  • Organic: This is a more reliable term because the USDA organic seal indicates that the animal was given only organic feed, and was not given antibiotics or growth hormones. Even sick animals that were treated with antibiotics can no longer legally be labeled “organic.”
  • Pasture-raised: Again, this term can be misleading, because many meat producers will use it if their cows were only periodically allowed brief access to the outdoors.

Eggs

  • Cage-free: This means hens are not kept in cages, but that doesn’t mean they’re allowed outdoor access. In fact, they can still be raised in crowded (read: “overcrowded”) conditions indoors.
  • Free-range: This means the animals have at least some access to the outdoors, and aren’t caged, but they still may be raised primarily in crowded conditions.
  • Organic: These eggs come from hens that haven’t been fed grains grown with GMOs or synthetic pesticides. In addition, they aren’t raised in cages and must be given outdoor access. Again, though, “outdoor access” can still mean being confined in cramped conditions on tiny concrete porches.
  • Pasture-raised: Although there’s no standard definition for this term if the egg label contains either the Certified Humane or American Humane Certified pasture-raised labels, it means the hens must have access to a pasture with room for natural behaviors, such as pecking for bugs and seeds.

How to be Sure

As Vox reports, “For the grocery shopper buying animal products, the independent rating programs created by advocacy programs are the most important labels to look out for, since they actually have auditing systems built in to hold producers accountable.”

These certification labels include “GAP-Certified,” “Certified Humane,” and “Animal Welfare Approved.”

Finally, remember that what’s best for animal welfare is usually best for our health, as well.

Is Exercise Better Than Drugs for Mental Health?

If our primary care concierge doctors in Jupiter could prescribe a single treatment for a host of different health concerns, it would be exercise.

For example, one study published in the journal BMJ compared exercise alone versus drug therapy alone and found that for heart disease, diabetes control or prevention, stroke rehabilitation, and treatment of heart failure, regular physical exercise was just as effective as prescription medications in treating many of these conditions.

And according to the Mayo Clinic, some of the disorders that benefit from regular exercise include:

  • Heart disease – In addition to strengthening the heart muscle and lowering blood pressure, exercise can help you be more active without experiencing chest pain or other symptoms.
  • Diabetes – Regular exercise can not only help insulin more effectively lower your blood sugar level, but also help control weight and boost energy.
  • Asthma – Exercise has been shown to control the frequency and severity of asthma attacks.
  • Back pain – Regular low-impact aerobic exercise can help increase the strength of your back muscles and improve endurance and muscle function.
  • Arthritis – Exercise is the primary approach to reduce pain, help maintain muscle strength in affected joints and reduce joint stiffness.

What About the Brain?

It makes sense, then, that the benefits of exercise would also impact the brain.

And that’s just what a new study, published in February in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, revealed. Researchers from the University of South Australia correlated data from 1,039 studies involving more than 128,000 volunteers.

They found that physical activity was 1.5 times more effective for managing depression than either counseling or the leading medications typically prescribed for the disease.

The review showed that exercise interventions that were 12 weeks or shorter were the most effective at reducing mental health symptoms, showing how quickly physical activity can make a difference, Science Daily reported.

“Our review shows that physical activity interventions can significantly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in all clinical populations,” lead researcher Dr. Ben Singh said in a statement.

“We also found that all types of physical activity and exercise were beneficial, including aerobic exercises such as walking, resistance, training, Pilates, and yoga,” he said. 

“Importantly, the research shows that it doesn’t take much for exercise to make a positive change to your mental health.”

Even a Little Bit Helps

This last finding is important because one of the hallmarks of depression is a lack of energy. So asking them to engage in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week is akin to asking them to climb a mountain with a broken leg.

Another study, published this month in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, offers similar reassurance that any regular movement can make a difference.

For this study, the researchers looked at 15 studies involving more than 190,000 subjects.

They found that people who engaged in brisk walking for a total of 2.5 hours a week had a lower risk of depression than those who didn’t exercise at all. 

“Most benefits are realized when moving from no activity to at least some,” the study authors wrote. 

“Our findings, therefore, have important new implications for health practitioners making lifestyle recommendations, especially to inactive individuals who may perceive the currently recommended target [of 2.5 hours a week] as unrealistic,” they added.

How Does it Work?

There are several reasons exercise has such a positive effect on depression and anxiety, according to Dr. Antonia Baum, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at George Washington University, who was not involved in these studies.

It can improve blood circulation to the brain and have a positive impact on inflammation and the body’s immune response, she told U.S. News, noting the connection between heart health and depression. There may also be intangible benefits such as getting stronger or feeling empowered or gaining a sense of well-being.

Yet another recent meta-review of 41 studies involving 2,265 people with depression found that almost any type of exercise substantially reduces symptoms of depression, The Washington Post reported.

“We found large, significant results,” said study leader Andreas Heissel, an exercise scientist at the University of Potsdam in Germany.

Although more exercise produced greater results, “Something is better than nothing,” Heissel noted.

Small Moves

Jennifer Heisz, a neuroscientist and an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, who was not involved in these studies, was even more encouraging.

“Any movement, every movement, every step counts,” she told U.S. News.

“It doesn’t have to be as much as you need for physical health,” she added. “You can get by with half of that, and this is very consistent with the literature.”

Heisz suggested that people try to move a little every day, even if it’s just a five- or 10-minute walk, or a two-minute movement break every half hour for those who sit all day.

“That’s how simple we need to get, especially for people who are not moving at all, and to acknowledge that there is this additional barrier of motivation for people who are suffering from depression,” she said.

One final word: It’s important not to try to treat depression yourself. We can help guide you through different approaches or even recommend other professionals that can help.

If you have thoughts of harming yourself, dial or text the new national suicide hotline number 988 for immediate help.

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