Glamour – Why This Surprising Combination May Help Fight Depression
We all know how much better we feel when we exercise, and, for some of us, when we meditate. In fact, new research has found that combining aerobic exercise with meditation may be a particularly effective strategy for helping people feel better, including fighting depression. Very pleased to weigh in for this Glamour article about why this might be case.
But why does this combination work? Exercise has been shown to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a brain protein that promotes neural growth and new learning, sometimes called a “fertilizer for the brain,” explains licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D. “This is important when combatting depression, or any mental health problem, since building coping strategies requires new learning, and new habits,” she says. “Exercise can really facilitate this process.”
Meditation, on the other hand, encourages people to make a conscious effort to step away from their feelings and experiences, and simply observe them (instead of acting on them). “Meditation has been linked to greater activity in the areas of the brain linked to emotional control,” Clark says. “This is important because being able to step away from your experience allows you to consider healthier choices and engage more effective coping.”