What are the benefits of exercise for mental health?
Are there studies that suggest if you are struggling with depression, that you should consider exercise for mental health?
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 anxiety, depression, and obesity.
But, what does the science say? 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 benefits for fighting depression. My comments are under the Notes section.
The Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health
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.
Depression is a Worldwide Problem
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 article that claims that the USA has the highest rate of depression worldwide, at a whopping 9.6% of the population.
Could our proclivity for processed food and minimal exercise be related?
United States – 9.6%
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.
They found that 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 psychotropic medications!
In addition to exercise, I believe when studies are done between the relationship of real food to depression, you 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.”
Exercise for Mental Health Experience
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, you can carry out a high-quality study on yourself. You are the scientist of your body! If you are struggling with depression, why not start a beginner deadlift program or beginner powerlifting program?
What have you got to lose? Nothing and you have everything to gain besides more lean muscle mass.
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 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.”
Benefits of Exercise for Mental Health – Final Thoughts
Before you focus on antidepressant pills to alleviate depression, you have everything to gain if you begin a full-body strength training program like the 3×5 workout.
It should come as no surprise that moving your body will help you shift your mood. The skeletal muscles are the only muscles in your body that you have neural control over, meaning that you need to think first and then move your voluntary skeletal muscles.
You have these voluntary muscles so you can move your skeleton, otherwise, you would only be a heap of bones.
A life of inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle is an invitation to a decreased or worse, depressed mood.
The superiority of the deadlift as an exercise for mental health is because it is a compound exercise that targets multiple muscle groups at the same time.
Also, the deadlift is an accessible exercise that people of all ages, and mobility can begin to perform.
However, any exercise you enjoy will be a much better choice than antidepressants!
You will get leaner, stronger, and look and feel much better. Give exercise for mental health a whirl, you will not be disappointed!
The deadlift was my road to freedom from antidepressants.
Any exercise you enjoy can help you beat obesity, manage depression, and live a better life.
If you want to tackle the deadlift, be aware that it is more complicated than picking a weight up off the floor. It might look simple but be forewarned that you either respect the deadlift, otherwise you run the risk of injury.
Therefore, before you start lifting, first learn How to Deadlift for Beginners – A Step by Step Guide.
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