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Aging and Depression: Exercise Lessens the Odds of Late-Life Depression

Everyone has some unhappiness in their life due to change, loss or stress. But what happens when the depression lingers.

Western society has benefited from the miracles of modern medicine, improved socioeconomic factors, public health and education. However, depression remains a major problem for all age groups.
According to the CIGNA HealthCare Report and the Rose Resource, an estimated 18 million people in the U.S. suffer from depression each year. The disease is particularly prevalent in people 65 and older. The article concludes that up to 15 percent of older adults have clinically significant symptoms of depression and 60 percent of these adults aren’t receiving proper therapy.
The report states that some, physicians and laymen alike, think that depression in later life is a normal part of the aging process –an unavoidable consequence of the challenges faced by seniors as their economic or social status or health may change. Many seniors that experience depression go undiagnosed because they focus more on the physical symptoms and are unable to express themselves emotionally. Seniors may also exhibit symptoms such as confusion, anxiety and irritability that may be ignored or confused with dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, stroke or other chronic diseases.

Signs of depression
According to the report the following are some of the signs and symptoms of depression for people of any age.
1. Loss of interest or pleasure in your job, family life, hobbies or sex,
2. Challenges in concentrating or remembering,
3. Weight gain or loss,
4. Trouble sleeping,
5. Unexplained physical pain or discomfort,
6. Loss of self-esteem or feelings of indifference,
7. A sadness that won’t go away,
8. Unexplained crying spells,
9. Recurring thoughts of death or suicide.
If someone recognizes themselves as having these symptoms, the first step in getting well is to see a physician to rule out any physical problems. Medications may be prescribed for depression as well as visits to a counselor. But perhaps the best prescription is physical activity, or regular exercise. In fact, exercise may be just as effective as psychotherapy, according to a WebMD Health program will report.
Exercise provides everyone with a variety of physical and emotional benefits. A workout increases muscle strength, flexibility, endurance and boost energy levels. Regular exercise in seniors also combats the negative influences depression can have on blood clotting, blood pressure, blood vessels and heart rhythms. It is the perfect antidote for helping to prevent heart disease and high blood pressure as well as maintain bone strength and joint flexibility. Physical activity is also a key factor in strengthening the immune system to better combat disease.
Exercise helps you rest better, feel better, look better and can serve as an outlet for managing tension and stress from relationships or work. All of this adds up to increased self-esteem and a better sense of self-sufficiency. The report also states that incorporating a regular workout program into your life can also expand your social horizons by putting you in touch with others who are as interested in their health and well being as you are.

The benefits of physical activity for seniors
Remember, it’s never too late to reap the rewards of a healthy lifestyle to feel better physically and emotionally. The report lists the following as reasons to get started on an exercise plan now to combat depression or stress.
1. You’ll retain vitality, mobility and independence.
2. Exercise releases the “feel good” endorphins, natural painkillers, into your blood stream.
3. Sleep comes easier .
4. You’ll appreciate life more.
5. You’ll notice an increased feeling of self-esteem and positive.
You should check with your physician before beginning any exercise program, especially if you haven’t been active for a long period of time.
Depression doesn’t have to be an inevitable consequence of growing older. A healthy lifestyle will keep you feeling vital and strong and enhance your quality of life for years to come.

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