HealthPartners Medical Group (HPMG), a physician group with offices located in Indiana and Michigan, believes so strongly in the benefits of exercise for depression that its doctors are beginning to routinely prescribe pedometers to all patients screened for depression.
"The pedometer program is not meant to replace medication or therapy that may be beneficial to the patients," notes regional assistant medical director Dr. Art Wineman, "but it can be an effective tool in our toolkit for patients. Exercise works because it increases the feel-good chemicals in your brain. It also improves energy, relieves anxiety and helps sleep."
HealthPartners patients are encouraged to aim for 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity, three to five days a week. The pedometer helps in this process because it provides direct feedback about even modest gains in activity and encourages patients to progress to more vigorous exercise, which may help their depression even more.
So far HealthPartners has distributed over 300 pedometers to patients at three of its clinics - West, Arden Hills and Health Center for Women - and plans to begin distributing them at all of its clinics by summer 2011.
Have you successfully used exercise to help with your depression? What tips would you offer to others who are just beginning about how to get yourself motivated when really don't feel like exercising?
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