Exercise for Mental Health. Are there studies that suggest if you are struggling with depression, that you should consider to exercise for mental health? Up until today, most of my articles are purely based on my own observations. Everything, or nearly everything that I have written about has been through the lens of how real food and lifting myself up off of the ground, out of the chair and into the gym, how they have helped me in my battle against depression, obesity and anxiety. I have started to make a more consistent effort to see what the science says. What studies have been done which either prove or disprove the link between food, and exercise for mental health. Here is one study which does show that exercise for mental health does provide some benefits for fighting depression. My comments are in italics.
The Benefits of Exercise for Mental HealthSource:WileySummary:Exercise may benefit people suffering from depression, according to a recent review.Evidence has been found to suggest that exercise reduces symptoms of depression, although they say more high quality trials are needed.
Worldwide, more than 120 million people suffer from depression.
Antidepressants and psychological therapies are recommended as effective treatments for depression.
However, antidepressants have side-effects and some people prefer not to receive, or may not have access to, psychological therapies.
Physical exercise is also used as a treatment for depression.
There are a number of reasons why it might work such as changing hormone levels that affect mood or providing a distraction from negative thoughts.
I have been saying all along, from the first days when I began to experience some relief from depression, that eating real food and exercise were helping me.
Below I found an aritcle which claims that the USA has the highest rate of depression world wide, at a whopping 9.6% of the population.
Could our proclivity for processed food and minimal exercise be related?
1. United States – 9.6%
No doubt that the North American country has its troubles in terms of politics and the economy.People are losing their jobs, and the economy is slowly recovering from a recession.In a country where prices are rising and wages are falling, it might be said that Americans can be justified in their feelings of depression.Many among this percentage are young people in their late teens and early twenties, as well as women suffering from postpartum depression.Whether it is biological or economics, circumstances are heavily affecting the citizens of the United States and their mental health.In the U.S. though, there is a strong support structure for those suffering from depression and the nation has successfully shed any taboo associated with the illness, with a strong culture of psychiatric treatment and medication.back to the article from Science Daily:
The previous version of the Cochrane review found only limited evidence of the benefits of exercise for mental health.
However, more trials have now been completed, leading researchers to carry out a further update.
Altogether, they reviewed the results of 39 trials involving 2,326 people diagnosed with depression.
The severity of patients’ symptoms was assessed using standard scales of depression.
In 35 trials comparing exercise with control treatments or no treatment, the researchers saw moderate benefits of exercise for treating depression.
Exercise was as effective as psychological therapy or taking antidepressants, although these findings were based on only a few, small, low quality trials.
If exercise provides some benefits for depression, then exercise should be the first stop before medications as I have mentioned many times before.
In addition to exercise, I believe when studies are done between the relationship of real food to depression, we will see the alleviation of depression symptoms going up as well.
“Our review suggested that exercise might have a moderate effect on depression,” said one of the authors of the review, Gillian Mead of the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, UK.
“We can’t tell from currently available evidence which kinds of exercise [regimens] are most effective or whether the benefits continue after a patient stops their exercise programme.”
I could tell them that the benefits will not continue after the exercise program is stopped.
I can also tell them that the benefits will likewise cease once the real food has given way to processed food.
Of course I am just one person, but hopefully we will be able to carry out high quality studies in the future.
Conducting high quality trials involving exercise can be problematic.
For example, it is difficult to conceal which patients have been allocated to treatment groups, and which have been allocated to control or no treatment groups.
Therefore, the researchers carried out a separate analysis focussing on the high quality trials.
In these six trials, the effect of exercise was weaker.
“When we looked only at those trials that we considered to be high quality, the effect of exercise for mental health was small and not statistically significant,” said Mead.
“The evidence base would be strengthened by further large-scale, high quality studies.”
- Gary M Cooney, Kerry Dwan, Carolyn A Greig, Debbie A Lawlor, Jane Rimer, Fiona R Waugh, Marion McMurdo, Gillian E Mead. Exercise for mental health. The Cochrane Library, DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004366.pub6