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How Exercise Assists in Treating Depression (Excerpt from an article by T. Borchard)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dr. James A. Blumenthal, a professor of medical psychology at Duke University, led a recent study in which he and his team discovered that, among the 202 depressed people randomly assigned to various treatments, three sessions of vigorous aerobic exercise were approximately as effective at treating depression as daily doses of Zoloft, when the treatment effects were measured after four months. A separate study showed that the depressives who improved with exercise were less likely to relapse after 10 months than those treated successfully with antidepressants, and the participants who continued to exercise beyond four months were half as likely to relapse months later compared to those who did not exercise.

Even as little as 20 minutes a week of physical activity can boost mental health. In a new Scottish study, reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, 20,000 people were asked about their state of mind and how much physical activity they do in a week. The results showed that the more physical activity a person engaged in — including housework, gardening, walking, and sports — the lower their risk of distress and anxiety.

Exercise relieves depression in several ways. First, cardiovascular workouts stimulate brain chemicals that foster growth of nerve cells. Second, exercise increases the activity of serotonin and/or norepinephrine. Third, a raised heart rate releases endorphins and a hormone known as ANP, which reduces pain, induces euphoria, and helps control the brain’s response to stress and anxiety. Other added benefits include improved sleep patterns, exposure to natural daylight (if you’re exercising outside), weight loss or maintenance, and psychological aids.

APA Reference
Borchard, T. (2013). 6 Steps Toward Resilience & Greater Happiness. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 18, 2013, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/a
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