Exercise Helps Keep Your Psyche Fit

Exercise is important to keep our bodies healthy and fit. However, exercise has more benefits than just physical fitness. In a meta-analysis made in 1990, it has been found that exercise can treat depression as well.

A research team which included Penny McCullagh, PhD., found that:

Exercise is a good antidepressant both instantly and over the long term.

Exercise is effective in alleviating depression among all studied populations but is most effective in treating depression among the most physically and/or psychologically unhealthy patients in the beginning of the program.

The older the patient, the more effective exercise is for treating their depression, although exercise significantly alleviates depression for all ages.

Exercise is an effective antidepressant for both genders.

Any form of exercise, whether aerobic or anaerobic, is all effective in decreasing depression. However, walking and jogging are more frequently used.

Longer and more (total) exercise sessions decrease depression more.

The most potent antidepressant effect is when exercise is combined with psychotherapy.

Exercise vs. medications

Psychologist James Blumenthal, PhD and his colleagues at Duke University conducted a number of studies involving patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder. They used two treatment conditions of medications and exercise.

They compare patients’ response to medications (only), exercise (only) and a combination of the two. They found that after four and a half months of treatment, the patients receiving any of the treatment were significantly less depressed, and that two-thirds of the patients were no longer depressed.

Blumenthal et al. 1999

In another study conducted by psychologist Michael Babyak, PhD, and colleagues, where they contacted the same patients after 6 months, they found that patients who were part of the exercise group were more inclined to be partially or fully recovered than those who were in the medications (only) and medications plus exercise group.

Babyak et al. 2000

Source: Psychology Matters