Trees

exercise. the best medicine. (podcast!)

Growing up, I was a kid who hid in the back corner during gym — because dodgeballs are hard and kids are mean. I never developed a sense of myself as athletic, and mostly didn’t miss it.

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Instead, I found my physicality by carrying my life essentials on my back for four days on a backpacking trail. It was life altering — but somewhat location dependent.

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Several years ago, I hit a personal low. I had tried pretty much all the things, but wasn’t feeling any better. After being strongly advised by a non-medical friend to consider pharmaceutical medications, a Facebook post from a doctor friend jumped out at me: Weight-bearing improves mood.

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So I tried it. And it made a huge difference.

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The research literature has long supported exercise as a treatment for depression and anxiety. The side effects of exercise, properly applied, are increased strength, improved blood sugar balance, better immune function and more.

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(Note that I don’t tout weight loss here. Not everyone loses weight, and not everyone needs to. Overall health should be the goal, with weight optimization a possible secondary side effect.)

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When it comes to depression, research shows that while medications may work faster, exercise is equally effective after 16 weeks and better than drugs after 10 months. And it doesn’t take much: Just 20 minutes three times a week of moderate-intensity exercise makes a significant difference. (PMID: 15361924.)

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The same pattern holds for anxiety. Even a single round of resistance exercise can lower anxiety significantly. (PMID: 25071694)

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My patients will attest to this experience. Many of them start exercising and find the stressors that would stop their lives cold no longer affect them nearly as strongly. It’s been a lifesaver for them, as it has been for me.

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I mention my story because it’s not unique: Many of us have traumas and resistance around athleticism, gyms and “exercise” in general. You don’t have to even want to be an athlete to get these benefits. You just need to do the things.

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I started going to the gym with the idea that it was something I had to do regardless of whether I found a strong community or even liked the activity. It was a prescription. In the end, it surprised me with both community and an activity I enjoy. I’m still no athlete, but having exercise as a tool in times of stress is a huge help.

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The podcast below is one I did two years ago with Michael Skogg, the owner of Skogg Gym in Portland. (If you’re not local, he’s got both videos and virtual memberships available.) In it I review the science behind exercise as a treatment for depression and anxiety.

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If you find it useful, I hope you’ll pass this post along.

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Dr. Orna Izakson | natural mental health | exercise with kettle bells

change your mind, change your life

Do you ever find your thoughts getting in the way of your life? That ideas you have about how things should be prevent you from doing the things you know you want or need to do? Have you ever thought that if you could just change your mind you could change your life?

 

In this video, one patient describes his experience:

 

 

Of all the treatments I’ve used in my medical practice, the most magic I’ve seen comes from using flower essences to address exactly this. (more…)

sunshine vitamin brightens dark winter days

As some of you may know I recently got my first smart phone. and on it there’s now a fun little app called D-Minder, intended to help track your vitamin D exposure. The app looks at your skin tone, size, location, local weather and sun angle to determine how much vitamin D you can get at any given time, or when your next vitamin “D opportunity” is.

 

Today, Nov. 15, the app says “your next D opportunity is in 113 days.”

 

Sunny Arrowleaf Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata)

Sunny Arrowleaf balsamroot, to remind you of summer.

All of this is a great reminder that at northerly latitudes like Portland’s, the sun’s angle is just too low for natural Vitamin D production for a big chunk of the winter. The D-Minder folks created this video, which gives the clearest explanation I’ve seen of how this works.

 

Why do you care? Vitamin D improves immunity and healthy bone building, protects against cancer and diabetes, regulates blood pressure and balances inflammation that’s thought to be a primary underlying cause of many debilitating chronic diseases. (Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute offers this monograph on Vitamin D.)

 

What to do through the winter? If you can’t get a break to the tropics or the southern hemisphere,  recommend a simple lab test to assess your individual need and then appropriate use of a high-quality Vitamin D3 supplement.

 

(How much Vitamin D is enough? My reading of the research, coupled with clinical experience of myself, my colleagues and my mentors, suggests the U.S.-recommended daily values are too low.  But seriously, testing is the best way to know what’s right for you.)

 

To find out more about Vitamin D, why you need it and whether supplementation is right for you, please call or email us to schedule a time to speak with Dr. O.

 

 

Want to read more on Vitamin D?

The Vitamin D Council website is filled with great information, including options for testing and the best ways to get the Vitamin D you need.  This site was created by one of the doctors who pioneered Vitamin D awareness wave in the U.S.

 

 

green and blue to beat the blues

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Orna @ 2:37 pm

Depression and feel like an enormous dark hole, and climbing out can seem to require impossible effort. But researchers in the UK analyzing the results of 10 studies (with 1,250 participants) found that relief can take as little as five minutes surrounded by green. The researchers considered the effects of a variety of outdoor exercise activities on mood and self esteem. What they discovered was that people experienced a big boost in both after just five minutes out in nature. The effects increased with time, albeit less dramatically than the initial jump. Even greater improvements came when they added blue to the mix — in the form of lakes or rivers. So if you’re down, remember this simple, free prescription: just a few minutes Vitamin Green and Vitamin Blue. (Via BBC).

six great reasons to start gardening

wide purple basil

My favorite seed catalog came in today’s mail.

What’s new for 2010: organic Floriani red flint corn, green meat radish, Bolivian rainbow pepper, purple pac choy, ruby streaks mustard.

This is why I started gardening – I was awed by the incredible diversity of life I could sustain on my little corner of earth.

There were other reasons too. After my urban upbringing, I longed for the pastoral and bucolic ideal of self sufficiency and thriftiness. And certainly there were the political reasons: getting off the corporate food trough while promoting biological diversity and personal health.

But what really pushed me past reading and into action was a full-color catalog that arrived one Winter’s day. I saw purple carrots, speckled lettuces, striped snappy string beans, and a bright orange tomato that turned out to be an eggplant! If your vegetable education came largely from mainstream supermarkets as mine once did, you’ll understand my shock. Who knew there were purple potatoes, or that we could grow Thomas Jefferson’s beans or the Anasazi’s corn?

These days I’m a passionate gardener and my garden supports over 100 species. Here’s why you should tend a garden, even if it’s just a couple of plants: (more…)

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