For good health and prevention of disease exercise is a habit that can cure a variety of physical ills. Now, there is growing evidence that exercise can also help people who suffer from depression. Just getting up and moving around seems to have a positive impact on mental health as well as physical health.
The symptoms of depression include loss of appetite, trouble sleeping and just an all around lack of interest in doing things that used to make you feel happy. The good news for people suffering from depression is that studies show that physical exercise can cause an uptick in feelings of well being and the alleviation of feelings of depression. Exercise will help increase your appetite because you're burning more calories and it can help you sleep better because you're burning off some excess energy.
In a 2000 study performed at Duke University Medical Center, 156 people with major depressive disorder (MDD) volunteered to participate in an experiment to test the effect of exercise on depression. After four months, all of the patients reported significant reductions in their depressive symptoms. Also, the results were the same regardless of what kind of exercise they did. Researchers demonstrated in this study that there is an inverse relation between exercise and depression. In plain English, that means that as exercise goes up feelings of depression go down.
Taken together with treatment by a mental health professional, medication is often prescribed to treat depression. To see how exercise compares with taking medication, one of the groups of volunteers did no exercise but instead took Zoloft during the study. The result was that the groups that exercised reported 22% fewer feelings of depression than the group that took medication alone. In addition, the groups that exercised avoided the unpleasant side effects like nausea and insomnia that are sometimes reported by people who take Zoloft.
There are so many benefits of regular exercise. Reductions in heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis and stress are just a few. Now, we also know that feelings of depression can be significantly helped by getting up and getting moving. Try adding some exercise to your daily routine and you'll be healthier both physically and mentally.