- Mental Health
Exercise as a Form of Depression Therapy
Exercise and Depression
There have been limited studies done on the effects of exercise as a treatment for people that are depressed. In studies that have been conducted, they have found that people who exercise show relief from their depressive symptoms. These studies show that depression treated with exercise could be as effective as medication and therapy. If there were more studies done on the use of exercise as a treatment for depression we could find a way for people suffering to find relief from their symptoms in a healthy and inexpensive way.
When studying the relationship between exercise and depression there have been many dramatic findings that positively correlate the two. This begs the question: Why haven’t researchers studied it more? Well there are many reasons why they haven’t, but here are some results from those who have.
Egil W. Martinsen through research of several different studies found that aerobic exercise is equally as effective as psychotherapy and medication in treating depression. He discovered, in some cases, exercise actually was better at treating symptoms of depression. His conclusion is that “decreasing passivity and replacing it with active and instrumental behaviors” is what improved the disposition of the participants (2008).
Lindsay A. Taliaferro, and others, found similar results in a study they conducted. They propose that findings showed significantly lower rates of hopelessness, depression, and suicidal behavior among college students who engaged in physical activity (2008). Along with Taliaferro, Shelly Armstrong and Jody Oomen-Early found positive effects of exercise among college students (2009). Both studies were done through a one time survey.
In a three month study of women with depression Lynette L. Craft, and others, found that almost 50% of their participants showed a reduction in depressive symptoms and 31% achieved a remission of symptoms (2007).
These are all very good studies that have had many positive results. Most of them are one time survey studies and the studies that are research studies do not exceed three months which leaves room for growth and expansion of this study topic.
I believe there are three benefits of treating depression with exercise. The first benefit is an effective way to relieve suffering for people that have not been able to find relief through therapy or medications. Secondly, exercise will not only accomplish relief of symptoms, but it will also provide better health to the person depressed. Finally, it would be more cost effective.There does seem to be a trend that indicates exercise is just as effective, in treating depression, as medications and therapy.
Armstrong, Shelley, & Oomen-Early, Jody (2009). Social Connectedness, self-esteem, and depression symptomatology among collegiate athletes versus nonathletes. Journal of AmericanCollege Health, 57, 521-526.
Craft, Lynette L., Freund, Karen M., Culpepper, Larry, & Perna, Frank M. (2007). Intervention study of exercise for depressive symptoms in women. Journal of Women's Health, 16, 1499-1509.
Egil, Martinsen W. (2008).Physical activity in the prevention and treatment of anxiety and depression. Nord J Psychiatry, 62(47), 25-29.
Taliaferro, Lindsay A., Rienzo, Barbara A., Pigg, Morgan Jr., Miller, M. David, & Dodd, Virginia J. (2008). Associations between physical activity and reduced rates of hopelessness, depression, and suicidal behavior among college students. Journal of AmericanCollege Health, 57, 427-435.