The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed

The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed
Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2004; 6(3): 104–111.

When it comes to the effects of exercise on depression, aerobic exercise, such as running and swimming, has been much more extensively researched than anaerobic exercise, such as weightlifting. But as one study reports, there’s little difference between the two in terms of how well they relieve symptoms of depression. A study published in The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 2004, followed 40 women and found similar results in those who ran and those who lifted weights for eight weeks. In addition, there was no difference in the percentage of participants in the two groups who remained non-depressed during follow-up.

While many treatments have predominantly been “pharmacological” to date, there is growing evidence that behavioural treatments such as excercise are beneficial therapies.

“Exercise is a behavioral intervention that has shown great promise in alleviating symptoms of depression.”

Given the increasing numbers being recorded, there is a great need to investigate preventative and alternative treatments.

“Depression affects roughly 9.5% of the U.S. adult population each year, and it is estimated that approximately 17% of the U.S. population will suffer from a major depressive episode at some point in their lifetime.1,2 Depression has been ranked as the leading cause of disability in the United States, with over $40 billion being spent each year on lost work productivity and medical treatment related to this illness.3–6 “

As well as an increase in the breadth of population suffereers there is growing evidence that contributes to the deepening of symptoms across a person’s health spectrum.

“Treatment of clinical depression can be improved by the addition of cognitive-behavioral therapies,10 and by exercise. Research has also shown that depressed patients are less fit and have diminished physical work capacity on the order of 80% to 90% of age-predicted norms,11–14 which in turn may contribute to other physical health problems.”