FAQ 14 (Scroll for all articles)
Can Exercise Both Treat and Prevent Depression?
A research review published in the August 8, 2019, Current Sports Medicine Reports found that exercise can both prevent and treat depression.
Felipe Schuch, PhD, Department of Sports Methods and Techniques, Federal University, Brazil, and two colleagues from the United Kingdom cited 49 meta-analysis studies, which followed 267,000 people who were not depressed for a year or longer and found that high levels of physical activity and exercise reduced the chance of developing depression by 17% overall. Another meta-analysis cited in the study, which looked at 25 randomized, controlled trials testing the effects of exercise in people who were already depressed, found that exercise training had a "very large and significant antidepressant effect," compared to various control interventions.
Planning and support were key factors.
Finding an enjoyable activity, having support from friends and family, and being supervised by a fitness professional all increased the likelihood of starting and sustaining an exercise program, the authors noted.
Depression is a major problem worldwide. More often than not, drugs and psychotherapy are the main focus. Lifestyle and exercise are often given little consideration.
Investigating the why and how exercise reduces symptoms of depression is in its early stages.
Finding a form of exercise that makes you happy is an important first step.
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If I wake up feeling a little "down," I know from long experience that the answer is to get up and get moving. I start most mornings by walking around our house and then doing my "Morning Motion."
My Morning Motion routine is ever evolving. The basic idea is to get the blood flowing to all parts of my body, including my brain. I begin by opening and closing my hands and moving my wrists, elbows, shoulders, legs, back, calves, and neck. I end this segment with balancing movements and free squats with a broom stick.
The latest addition is resistance bands. I do arm movements and move on to shoulder presses, bend over rows, shrugs, and deadlifts. A major advantage of RBs is that they allow me to adjust for my weak shoulder and move my lower body without aggravating my gimpy lumbar spine.
The routine takes about 10 minutes. The emphasis is on movement--not effort.
I end with a short walk (15 or 20 minutes) around our neighborhood. The only negative is a barking dog across the street, who can't get it through her pea-brain that I'm a neighbor.
A positive is that two big dogs on the next street over are always happy to see me. My dad, a dog lover, observed that little dogs bark to keep the play on their side, while big dogs don't feel threatened. These dogs are monsters, capable of doing major harm to anyone who abuses them.
It took a while for us to make friends, but we've come to be good buddies. They can smell and hear me long before I get to their yard and hang over the fence waiting for me. The alpha dogs insists on getting attention first, but lets me pet his underling a little bit.
The dogs and I enjoy the contact; they lick my hands while I rub their big heads. (Carol makes me wash my hands when I get home.)
Self efficacy is another key factor.
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Self efficacy is discussed by Tim Bono, PhD, professor of positive psychology, in his book WHEN LIKES AREN'T ENOUGH.
Self efficacy is the concept that something you do for yourself--such as exercise--is more empowering and therapeutic than something that comes from outside sources.
One of Dr. Bono's students suffering from depression confided to him that short daily workouts in his apartment helped him feel in control, that he was “taking care of himself.”
Bono cites the following comment by researchers investigating the why and how exercise reduces symptoms of depression:
One of the positive psychological benefits of systematic exercise is the development of a sense of personal mastery and positive self-regard….It is conceivable that the use of medication may undermine this benefit by prioritizing an alternative, less self-confirming attribution for one’s improved condition. Instead of incorporating the belief ‘I was dedicated and worked hard with the exercise program; it wasn’t easy, but I beat this depression,’ patients might incorporate the belief that ‘I took an antidepressant and got better.’
For more retails see my article Exercise & the Science of Happiness: https://www.cbass.com/exercise_happiness.html
January 1, 2020
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