Exercise and Depression

Exercise and Depression

Exercise and food

Exercise is better than drugs for treating depression! A study from Duke psychologist James Blumenthal and his team from the October 2000 issue of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine divided 156 people into 3 groups: anti-depression group, exercise group, combination group. The result? The exercise-only improved the most and only the exercise group remained continued to improve over time. Researchers were surprised that the group of patients who took the medication and exercised did not respond as well as those who only exercised. After 16 weeks, patients who only exercised showed statistically significant and comparable improvement relative to those who took anti-depression medication, or those who took the medication and exercised.

After 6 months, only 8 percent of patients in the exercise group had their depression return, while 38 percent of the drug-only group and 31 percent of the exercise-plus-drug group relapsed.

"Simply taking a pill is very passive," he said. "Patients who exercised may have felt a greater sense of mastery over their condition and gained a greater sense of accomplishment. They may have felt more self-confident and competent because they were able to do it themselves and attributed their improvement to their ability to exercise.” James Blumenthal said. 

Regular exercise eliminates depression in a number of ways, which may include: Releasing feel-good brain chemicals that may ease depression (neurotransmitters, endorphins and endocannabinoids) Reducing immune system chemicals that can worsen depression. Increasing body temperature, which may have calming effects. – Mayo Clinic

In another article from Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, February 2016 issue, studied what happens within our bodies during and after exercise that might affect and improve our moods. The researchers analyzed 20 past studies in which scientists had obtained blood samples from people with major depression before and after they had exercised. The blood samples indicated that exercise significantly reduced various markers of inflammation and increased levels of many different hormones and other biochemicals that are thought to contribute to brain health.


While exercise a good treatment for depression, we could ask:  is depression a result of lack of exercise? While exercise does improve depression - we are not designed for depression, therefore "exercise" is not a treatment – rather… exercise is a requirement of health. Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.

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