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Exercise therapy can ease depression--study
by Neharika Sabharwal

Main Article page | Health page| Fitness articles| Diseases


Although, there is no concrete research to establish that exercise by itself can cure depression, a new study suggests physical activity as an overall therapy can be a useful tool to distract from depressive thoughts and feelings.

According to researchers, exercise is a major stress buster that not only keeps us from brooding over negative feelings and letting off steam, but keeps the body flexible, improves sleeping patterns, keep blood pressure in check and help increase bone strength.

Jasper Smits, director of the Anxiety Research and Treatment Program at Southern Methodist University at Dallas who led the study stated, "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."

Data examined and analyzed
In an effort to determine the role of exercise as a beneficial treatment for mild to moderate depression, researchers reviewed data from many population-based studies, clinical studies including their own meta-analysis of exercise interventions.

According to them, traditional treatments of cognitive behavioral therapy and pharmacotherapy do not show promise in all patients.

However, exercise on the other hand does not carry a negative social stigma and is known to sufficiently reduce symptoms of depression.

Smits declared, "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.

"Exercise also can supplement traditional treatments, helping patients become more focused and engaged."

Regular exercise a stress buster
Scientists found that exercise done regularly on modest levels works great in combating symptoms of tension.

The frequency or the intensity of the exercise performed does not appear to play a significant role. However, it is imperative that the patients should first be assessed for their capacity to endure physical therapy.

The aim should be primarily to involve them in a moderate exercise regime of around 150 minutes per week or alternatively 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise weekly.

According to experts, physical activity should be promoted as a short term measure to lift a person’s mood and help keep negative thoughts at bay.

Smits stated, "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.”

He further said it is vital that physiotherapists should arm their patients with daily schedules, problem-solving strategies, and goal-setting for better results.

The researchers presented their findings last month in Baltimore at the annual conference of the Anxiety Disorder Association of America.

- Courtesy:

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