Can Depression Be Overcome by Exercise
The more therapists who are trained in exercise therapy, the better off patients will be.
Researchers based their finding on an analysis of several different population-based studies, clinical studies and meta-analytic reviews related to exercise and mental health. Their meta-analysis of exercise interventions for mental health and studies on reducing anxiety sensitivity with exercise further supported their findings.
The researchers’ review demonstrated the efficacy of exercise programs in reducing depression and anxiety.
The traditional treatments of cognitive behavioral therapy and pharma-therapy don’t reach everyone who needs them, “Exercise can fill the gap for people who can’t receive traditional therapies because of cost or lack of access, or who don’t want to because of the perceived social stigma associated with these treatments,” they emphasized. “Exercise also can supplement traditional treatments, helping patients become more focused and engaged.”
The research team presented their findings March 2010 in Baltimore at the annual conference of the Anxiety Disorder Association of America. Their workshop was based on their therapist guide “Exercise for Mood and Anxiety Disorders,” with accompanying patient workbook (Oxford University Press, September 2009).
The studies showed Individuals who exercise report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, and lower levels of stress and anger. “Exercise appears to affect, like an antidepressant, particular neurotransmitter systems in the brain, and it helps patients with depression re-establish positive behaviors. For patients with anxiety disorders, exercise reduces their fears of fear and related bodily sensations such as a racing heart and rapid breathing.” they noted.
How Much Exercise
Ideally, patients should work up to 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity.
At a time when 40 percent of Americans are sedentary, mental health care providers can serve as their patients’ exercise guides and motivators.
“Rather than emphasize the long-term health benefits of an exercise program, which can be difficult to sustain, we urge providers to focus with their patients on the immediate benefits,” the researchers recommend. “After just 25 minutes, your mood improves, you are less stressed, you have more energy and you’ll be motivated to exercise again tomorrow. A bad mood is no longer a barrier to exercise; it is the very reason to exercise.”
They also suggest health care providers who prescribe exercise also must give their patients the tools they need to succeed, such as the daily schedules, problem-solving strategies and goal-setting.
Source: Southern Methodist University, “Mental health providers should prescribe exercise more often for depression, anxiety”
Dr. Dale Peterson is a graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Medicine. He completed his residency in FamilyMedicine at the University of Oklahoma. He is a past president of the Oklahoma Academy of Family Physicians. He had a full-time family practice in Edmond, Oklahoma, for over 20 years and was a Chief of Staff of the Edmond Hospital. He was active in teachingfor many years as a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine through the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center.
Dr. Peterson left his full-time family practice in 1999 to consult with individuals who are seeking ways to restore and maintain their health through improved nutrition and other lifestyle changes. He founded the Wellness Clubs of America to give people access to credible information on supporting and maintaining their health. His monthly wellness letter, Health by Design, and his Health by Design E-Newsletter provide helpful information to individuals interested in preventing and conquering health challenges. He is the author of Building Health by Design: Adding Life to Your Years and Years to Your Life .
Dr. Peterson speaks regularly on subjects related to health and nutrition. He hosted a weekly radio program,Your Health Matters, on KTOK in Oklahoma City for five years. For the past nine years he has addressed questions from across the nation on his Your Health Matters weekly teleconference.He offers a free video LifeXtension course at www.drdalepeterson.com.