Fitness News: Studies Provide Evidence that Exercise Helps Fight Depression
People suffering from depression often become sedentary and avoid engaging in normal life activities, contributing to further isolation. Exercise can jump start an upward cycle that inspires people to return to work, reconnect with friends and family and become more active.
Many scientists and physicians believe that exercise increases levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter thought to be linked to mood regulation. Improved levels of serotonin can shift a person's state of mind and contribute to a more fulfilling lifestyle
A study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine followed 202 men and women with major depression. Each were randomly assigned to participate in a supervised exercise program in a group setting, do home-based exercise, take an antidepressant medication or take a placebo pill. After 16 weeks, 41% were in remission, meaning they no longer had major depressive disorder. Those who were in the exercise and medication groups tended to have higher remission rates than the placebo group.
"On its own, exercise does appear to have significant effects in terms of elevating mood," says Dr. Andrew Leuchter, professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Physical activity, he adds, is often used to augment treatments such as medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. "If people are on medication or in treatment and haven't had a complete recovery from depression, exercise is useful in getting them all the way there."
Yoga in particular is effective at managing mood disorders. In addition to a strong mind-body connection yoga can be modified to suit individual activity levels and be continued into old age.
Patients in treatment should not consider exercise as a substitute for medication or therapy and should consult a physician before starting an exercise program.
[Source: LA Times]
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