Beating Depression in Perimenopause with Exercise and Light
We’re still on the topic of depression in perimenopause for the month of March. Heretofore, we’ve discussed dietary changes to include foods which provide the chemical building blocks, so to speak, for your body to produce serotonin, a natural mood regulator.
But food alone is not enough to beat the blues of depression in perimenopause. Exercise and exposure to light – especially sunlight – are equally as important. In fact, if I had to put these three things in order of priority, I would probably place exercise and exposure to sunlight as number one and number two, and dietary changes as number three.
They are all important, mind you, but the impact of moderate aerobic exercise combined with daily exposure to sunlightcannot be underestimated when it comes to raising serotonin levels in the brain, improving mood, lowering stress, and banishing depression for good. Study after study has consistently shown that a mere 30 minutes per day of some form of aerobic exercise – walking, biking, running, hiking, or swimming – combined with moderate exposure to sunlight, is enough to substantially lift your mood.
As a former long distance runner and bicyclist, I can attest to this. I recall many times when I was struggling with a problem or stressed about something when I put on my running shoes or hopped on my bicycle and ran or pedaled my blues away. Aerobic exercise and light exposure doesn’t necessarily solve your problems, ladies, but it can sure make them seem less significant!
If aerobic exercise is not something you are motivated to do, then how about strength training? It doesn’t require that you leave your house if you invest in a few weights of varying poundage. Research has also shown that moderate weight training will have a positive impact on your mood as well. And don’t underestimate the value of simply working in a flower or vegetable garden, or pushing a lawn mower either! I’ve long held that many of life’s problems can be solved behind the handle of a shovel or a lawn mower.
Simple Tips are Not So Simple When You’re Depressed
I am aware that when you are suffering with depression in perimenopause, all of these “simple and easy tips” don’t always sound so simple and easy. In fact, if you’re like me, trying to figure out a way to fit all of these wonderful healthy habits into an already packed-full life can be depressing all by itself, I know.
So take it from someone who knows what you’re going through, someone who understands exactly what the weight of depression in perimenopause feels like. Trust me when I say just make a decision. Not two, or three, or four decisions. Just one.
Take these suggestions one at a time, one day at a time, and don’t think about the “bigness” of it all. When you’re climbing a set of stairs, you don’t need to see the whole staircase. You just need to take them one step at a time.
Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women's health and a women's freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.