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Does brisk walking increase serotonin levels?

Friday, 13 June 2008
Answered by: Ms. Neeta Garg
Fitness expert and Psychologist
Apollo Clinic
Gurgaon
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Q. I have heard that brisk walking increases serotonin level in the brain, which helps in the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Is it true?

A.  Any form of regular exercise has many benefits, amongst them is the raising of levels of hormones that reduce stress, improve immunity and spread an all-pervasive sense of well being. The release of serotonin, endorphins and other neuro transmitters are some of the known positive side effects of exercise that keep regular exercisers in happier and healthier dispositions. Per se, whether this in particular, will help OCD, is a matter of on going study and can not be the basis on which I can answer for sure. What you have given is a very simplistic view of how the mind and body works. While there is a co-relation between exercise and positive mental and emotional well being (amongst other things), exactly how that works in the case of mental disorders, is what has taken behavioural scientists years to decipher. So although exercise does increase positive hormones like endorphins, how this specifically affects OCD, is not fully understood nor can it be prescribed as the single remedy for its treatment.

A.  Any form of regular exercise has many benefits, amongst them is the raising of levels of hormones that reduce stress, improve immunity and spread an all-pervasive sense of well being. The release of serotonin, endorphins and other neuro transmitters are some of the known positive side effects of exercise that keep regular exercisers in happier and healthier dispositions. Per se, whether this in particular, will help OCD, is a matter of on going study and can not be the basis on which I can answer for sure. What you have given is a very simplistic view of how the mind and body works. While there is a co-relation between exercise and positive mental and emotional well being (amongst other things), exactly how that works in the case of mental disorders, is what has taken behavioural scientists years to decipher. So although exercise does increase positive hormones like endorphins, how this specifically affects OCD, is not fully understood nor can it be prescribed as the single remedy for its treatment.

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