exercise womenThe 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.

Research Shows:

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”

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