Exercising the Blues Away

Winter can be a difficult time for many people, physically and emotionally. Bodies may hurt from the cold, or there may be feelings of anxiety and depression. Exercise can help ease all of these feelings, however. In a recent article on the Mayo Clinic website, the Mayo staff details a list of ways this can work. While getting motivated can be difficult, the clinic writes, beginning on a path of regular exercise can only benefit your health in the long run.

Exercise releases brain chemicals that produce positive feelings throughout the body–neurotransmitters, endorphins, and endocannabinoids are some of them. When these chemicals are released, you can feel happier and more confident within yourself. Exercise  helps you manage your emotional stress in a positive way. Instead of thinking about what makes you sad, you’re taking steps to change it, which can lead to continued feelings of motivation and confidence. Exercise also fights chemicals in the immune system that can make depression worse, and increases your body temperature, fighting the metaphorical and literal cold.

If taking up an exercise routine is daunting to you, you can start small by incorporating more physical activities into your life. This can be anything that gets you moving: going grocery shopping, doing laundry, cleaning the house, taking a brisk walk, things like that. You can also think about a physical activity or exercise that you enjoy doing, and make that your outlet. This way, it’s not a chore–it’s something you love that’s also really good for you.

As little as 30 minutes of exercise per day for five days can begin to improve symptoms of depression. While the links between exercise, anxiety, and depression aren’t totally clear, exercise has been shown time and again to improve those symptoms.

Learn more about the link between anxiety, depression, and exercise in this article on the Mayo Clinic’s website here. What activities will you be participating in to lift your mood? Tell us in the comments!

To Medicate or Not to Medicate?

By Riva Preil

Perhaps this would have been Shakespeare’s question had the medical technology at our disposal been available to him. The questions we are able to ask nowadays far surpass those asked even one generation ago thanks to the vast amount of research performed since. One such question many women  “at risk” of developing breast cancer (ex. family history or personal history of the disease) may find themselves asking is whether or not they should prophylactically take tamoxifen or raloxifene, medication that decreases the likelihood of developing breast cancer.  The upside of these medications is that they interfere with effects of estrogen, which is associated with the growth of breast cancer tumors. However, the downside of these medications is that on rare occasion, they can result in stroke, blood clots, and endometrial cancer.  Scary, no?  Wouldn’t it be great if doctors could predict for each person, on an individualized case by case basis, how they are likely to respond to medications?  Absolutely, because if that were the case, then women with an extremely low likelihood of developing the negative side effects could breathe a sigh of relief if they decide to take preventative measures by opting for the medication.

Well, thanks to Dr.  James N. Ingle of the Mayo Clinic along with his international team of researchers, the answer to the question may be within reach.  Dr. Ingle discovered two single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), ZNF423 and CTSO, which presented amongst the more than 33,000 high-risk participants in two different versions, a “good” version and a “bad” version.  These two genes have never been linked to breast cancer in the past, however this study revealed that women with a “good” version of both genes were SIX TIMES LESS LIKELY TO DEVELOP BREAST CANCER than women who had the “bad” versions.  With this promising research, doctors will hopefully have the ability to guide their patients in informed decision making to promote optimal health.