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  • Writer's pictureDaniel Welstead

Is Exercise Good For Depression?

Is Exercise Interventions Good For Major Depression?

When your doctor tells you to exercise may be relieving your depression symptoms, you might think this is about your physical health rather than mental health, but studies show the mental health benefits of exercise. Exercise may even help alleviate symptoms of depression while improving your mental health. Some studies have shown that exercise works rapidly to boost depression symptoms for many people. Many experts believe that exercise is an effective therapy for depression.

According to some studies, for some people, regular exercise works just as well as medication in relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the effects may be lasting. Although exercise has positive effects for most people, some recent studies suggest that, for some, exercise may not have a positive impact on anxiety or depression, or it may not make a significant difference in mental health over the long run. Many studies have investigated the effectiveness of exercise in decreasing symptoms of depression, and a large majority of those studies have described positive benefits associated with participation in exercise. In addition to the protective effects of exercise on feelings of depression, exercise can decrease stress and help ensure better nights' sleep.

It can also reduce stress, enhance memory, make you sleep better, and improve your overall mood. Exercise also calms your mind, calming down the cycle of negative thoughts that usually accompany depression, and it helps to lower stress, improve your sleep, and increase self-esteem. No, exercise cannot or will not make your stress disappear, but it may provide time to break free from the cycle of negative thoughts that fuel depression. Regular exercise boosts mood when you are depressed, and is particularly helpful for those who are suffering from mild or moderate depression.

While studies have shown it may help decrease symptoms of depression, particularly with mild to moderate depression, it is not at all a substitute for other treatments, such as therapy or medications. Exercise may help those only partly improved on SSRI medications to have better responses, and may keep depression from returning. In addition to relieving symptoms of depression, studies have shown that maintaining a workout routine may keep you from having relapses.

Getting regular physical activity is a good way to prevent or manage minor depression. Research shows that regular physical activity improves your mental health and helps people who have suddenly developed the blues, and those diagnosed with clinical depression. In one study, researchers found that people who regularly engage in intense physical exercise were 25% less likely to have a depressive disorder or an anxiety disorder in the following five years.

Some studies found no direct relationship between levels of exercise and depression and anxiety (9-11), whereas others suggested any beneficial effects of exercise might be limited to specific subgroups or age groups or associated with intense exercise alone (12-14). Exercise is a behavioural intervention that has shown much promise for reducing symptoms of depression. Symptoms of depression, such as lower energy and motivation, can make things a little more difficult, but there are still ways to get active and improve your mood without feeling like you have to put in 2 hours at the gym.

Evidence from a new study shows that active people who engage in aerobic exercise have fewer depressive thoughts. Effective behavioural therapies such as talk therapy while walking help lower blood pressure and depressive symptoms. Exercise pretreatment has huge mental benefits which can act as a good antidepressant.

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