Exercise is also more effective than counseling or medication for depression

Summary: Exercise is an effective way to help with the treatment of a variety of mental health disorders including depression and anxiety. In fact, exercise may be more effective than medication and counseling for depression.

Source: The Conversation

The world is currently facing a mental health crisis, with millions of people reporting depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions. According to recent estimatesalmost half of all Australians will experience a mental health disorder at some point in their lives.

Mental health disorders come at a great cost to the individual and society, with depression and anxiety among the leading causes of of health relatedsea ​​weight The COVID pandemic worsens the situation, with a significant increase in rates of psychological distress affecting a third of people.

While traditional treatments such as therapy and medication can be effective, our new research emphasize the importance of exercise in the management of these conditions.

Our recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reviewed over 1,000 research trials examining the effects of physical activity on depression, anxiety and psychological distress. Exercise has been shown to be an effective way to treat mental health problems – and it can be even more effective than medication or counseling.

Harder, faster, stronger

We reviewed 97 review papers, involving 1,039 trials and 128,119 participants. We found that doing 150 minutes each week of different types of physical activity (such as brisk walking, lifting weights and yoga) significantly reduced depression, anxiety and psychological distress, compared to usual care (such as and medications).

The greatest improvements (as the author of the participants) were seen in people with depression, HIV, kidney disease, in pregnant and postpartum women, and in healthy individuals, although clear benefits are seen for all the populations.

We found that the higher the intensity of the exercise, the more beneficial it is. For example, walking at a fast pace, instead of walking at the usual pace. And exercising for six to 12 weeks has the greatest benefits, rather than shorter periods. Long-term exercise is important for maintaining mental health.

How much more effective?

When comparing the size of the benefits of exercise with other common treatments for mental health conditions from previous systematic reviews, our results suggest that exercise is about 1.5 times more effective than either. medication o cognitive behavioral therapy.

In addition, exercise has additional benefits compared to medication, such as reduced costless side effects and offers bonus earnings for physical healthsuch as healthier body weight, improved cardiovascular and bone health, and cognitive benefits.

Because it works

It is believed that exercise has an impact on mental health through many ways, and with short and long-term effects. Immediately after exercise, endorphins and dopamine are released in the body brain.

In the short term, this helps boost the mood and buffer stress. In the long term, the release of neurotransmitters in response to exercise promote changes in the brain that help with mood and cognition, decrease inflammation and boost immune function, all of which influence our brain function and mental health.

While traditional treatments such as therapy and medication can be effective, our new research highlights the importance of exercise in managing these conditions. The image is in the public domain

Regular exercise can lead to improved sleep, which plays a critical role in depression and anxiety. It also has psychological benefits, such as increased self-esteem and a sense of accomplishmentwhich are all beneficial for people struggling with depression.

It is not an “alternative” treatment.

The results underline the crucial role of exercise in managing depression, anxiety and psychological distress.

See also

This shows a sad woman walking in the snow

Some clinical guidelines already recognize the role of exercise – for example, the Australian and New Zealand clinical guidelinessuggests medication, psychotherapy and lifestyle changes such as exercise.

However, other main bodies, such as the American Psychological Association Clinical Practice Guidelines, emphasize medication and psychotherapy only, and list exercise as an “alternative” treatment – in the same category as treatments such as acupuncture. While the label “alternative” can mean many things when it comes to treatment, it tends to suggest that it lies outside of conventional medicine, or does not have a clear evidence base. None of these things are true in the case of exercise for mental health.

Even in Australia, medication and psychotherapy tend to be more commonly prescribed than exercise. This may be because exercise is difficult to prescribe and monitor in clinical settings. And patients can be resistant because they feel low in energy or motivation.

But don’t go alone

It’s important to note that while exercise can be an effective tool for managing mental health conditions, people with a mental health condition should work with a health professional to develop a comprehensive treatment plan—instead of just go with a new exercise regimen.

A treatment plan may include a combination of lifestyle approaches, such as regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, and socialising, along with treatments such as psychotherapy and medication.

But exercise should not be seen as a “nice to have” option. It’s a powerful and accessible tool for managing mental health conditions—and the best part is that it’s free and comes with many additional health benefits.

About this exercise and depression research news

Author: Ben Singh, Carol Maherand Jacinta Brinsley
Source: The Conversation
Contact: Ben Singh, Carol Maher and Jacinta Brinsley – The Conversation
Image: The image is in the public domain

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