Physical activity has several positive effects on the body, which include preventing obesity, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Exercise also has the power to significantly improve one’s mood. Research stretching as far back to 1981 suggests that regular physical activity can improve mood in people with mild to moderate depression. In review of the literature, Mead and colleagues discovered that exercise reduces depressive symptoms equally to traditional interventions, such as psychotherapy and pharmacological treatment. In comparison to pharmacological treatment, exercise is almost free of adverse side effects, it is cheap and is also convenient!
Perhaps the most compelling evidence supporting exercise is by a study published in 1999 from the Archives of Internal Medicine. The study divided 156 men and women with depression into three groups; a group designated to an aerobic exercise plan, a group taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors while the third group did both of the aforementioned. Following 16 weeks, depression had eased in all three groups. Approximately 60 to 70% of the individuals that were diagnosed with major depression at the start of the study could no longer be classed as having major depression at 16 weeks. A follow up study was conducted 6 months after the first study ended and found that exercise’s effects lasted longer than the effects of antidepressants. Regardless of the treatment group that an individual was originally assigned to, as long as a participant continued to exercise regularly following the study, they were less likely to relapse into depression.
So, if you are seeking to treat your depression in a non-pharmaceutical manner, then exercise is for you! However, this does not mean that you have to spend countless hours at the gym lifting weights. You can achieve physical activity in a variety of ways such as …
· Walking the dog
· Volleyball, baseball, soccer, golf, basketball, tennis (any sport)
· Paddle boarding
· Playing catch
· Roller blading
· Rock climbing
· Ice skating
· Hula hooping
· Rope jumping
· Playing tag with your kids (again any sport)
· Have a race daily with your child/children
· Dancing/ dance classes
Experts suggest getting half an hour to an hour of moderate exercise on all or most days of the week to achieve the ‘best’ results. Check out http://www.fit4two.ca/ it is a fantastic resource for moms and soon to be mothers! The “Fit 4 two” website shares an abundance of information on prenatal and postpartum exercise and they even offer special exercise classes across Canada!
Eriksson, S., & Gard, G. (2011). Physical exercise and depression. Physical Therapy Reviews, 16(4), 261-268. doi:10.1179/1743288X11Y.0000000026
SONGØYGARD, K. M., STAFNE, S. N., EVENSEN, K. I., SALVESEN, K. Å., VIK, T., & MØRKVED, S. (2012). Does exercise during pregnancy prevent postnatal depression?. Acta Obstetricia Et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 91(1), 62-67. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0412.2011.01262.x
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