Exercise found to significantly reduce depression, new study reveals

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(NaturalHealth365) Major depressive disorder (MDD) is prevalent around the world, and depending on the country, between 6-18% of the population is affected.  Unfortunately, depression is also a top cause of disability around the globe – which results in a huge (avoidable) burden.

For example, the costs associated with the amount of work lost because of anxiety and depression is estimated to be about $1.15 trillion worldwide – each year.  Just imagine what this world would be like – if more people simply felt better about their life.

Depression is often characterized by decreased motivation, low mood, insomnia, chronic fatigue, memory problems, and reduced pleasure or interest in normal activities.  And, while many doctors are trained to “treat” depression with toxic drugs, they really ought to consider promoting exercise to help prevent and treat depression.

In fact, a new literature review, which was published in Current Sports Medicine Reports, highlights how beneficial exercise can be in treating depression and preventing it altogether.  To be blunt, every psychiatrist (and psychologist) should read this for the sake of their patients.

Physical activity offers a significant antidepressant effect, according to a recent analysis

The recent review involved looking at data from 49 different studies, which included more than 250,000 people between them all. The analysis of all these studies revealed that after adjusting for possible confounding factors like smoking status, gender, and age, regular exercise reduces the risk of depression by a significant 17%.

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The authors also mention a previous analysis they conducted back in 2016, which included 25 different randomized trials. The results of those trials showed that physical activity could be useful in treating symptoms in individuals who were already diagnosed with depression.  While experts continue to try to understand the mechanisms behind why exercise as a significant antidepressant effect, many believe it’s likely due to the ability of physical activity to aid in brain cell regeneration, lower inflammation, and protect cellular health.

Editor’s note: Keep in mind, the kind of exercise that helps people to elevate their mood is really quite simple (and comfortable) to perform.  Activities like walking in nature will help to improve circulation, decrease stress levels and greatly improve your mood – if done on a regular basis.  The message here is simple: don’t overdo it, stay relaxed while exercising and be consistent – at least 3 times per week.

Enjoyment is a key motivator in keeping individuals with mental illness exercising

There’s an important caveat to these recent findings, though. The authors suggest that if people only exercise out of obligation instead of due to enjoyment, it may not prove effective against depression.

The key to keeping individuals with depression active is to make sure they find their exercise routine enjoyable, not challenging.  It’s noted that receiving support from social circles, medical professionals, and health and fitness professionals may all help increase that desire to maintain a regular exercise routine.

The bottom line here is that more healthcare providers need to recommend physical activity for the prevention and treatment of depression.

It’s also critical for healthcare professionals to support patients in determining and then continuing types of exercise they find enjoyable. From young children to aging adults, exercise offers protection against the development of depression, and the authors of the study note that the positive effects are seen across all continents.

In people who already have depression, physical activity also proves useful in managing the symptoms of depression and can be a valuable therapy to use along with other (non-toxic) forms of treatment for improved results.  Ultimately, it’s up to all of us to take charge of our own healthcare.

Editor’s note: Yes, I have to chime in (again) because this topic is so important to me.  Please keep in mind, that if you suffer with depression (or anxiety) – it’s vitally important that you surround yourself with positive people.  If your healthcare provider is not encouraging you to create a healthier lifestyle (and, just pushing drugs onto you) – then, find someone else to help you.

Sources for this article include:

LWW.com
MedicalNewsToday.com
MedicalNewsToday.com
Ovid.com