If you didn’t have a good reason to exercise before…this might get you off the couch.

Exercise can help to reduce depression. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, moderate or intense exercise is the same as using a secondary anti-depressant drug, which is often used when an initial medication isn’t working.

Over the four-year study, participants 18 to 70 years old, whose average length of depression spanned seven years exercised on treadmills and cycle ergometers. Groups were created in regards to the degree of intensity of exercise sessions-moderate and intense.

The results were that 30 per cent of both groups were in full remission from depression, and another 20 per cent showed a marked improvement. Moderate exercise was more effective for women with a family history of mental illness, while intense exercise was best for women whose family did not have a history of the disease. And for men, the higher rate of exercise was more effective regardless of history.

“Many people who start on an antidepressant medication feel better after they begin treatment, but they still don’t feel completely well or as good as they did before they became depressed,” said Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, professor of psychiatry and the study’s lead author. “This study shows that exercise can be as effective as adding another medication. Many people would rather use exercise than add another drug, particularly as exercise has a proven positive effect on a person’s overall health and well-being.”

The results also show that the type of exercise and exercise programs would need to be tailored to each individual based on their personal history.

Maybe its time for health benefit providers to include a personal trainer or gym membership as options if they haven’t already.

It’s time to get off the couch, if you are depressed; it costs nothing to go for a walk. If you aren’t depressed think of it as preventative medicine. The side effect is that you look great while feeling better.

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