How Exercise Reduces Depression and Anxiety

Smart tips reported in this article by Psychology Today. Studies have demonstrated a strong antidepressant effect for exercise. One meta-analysis that examined well-controlled studies of exercise as an intervention for clinical depression found a large effect size when compared to nonactive control groups.

There is significant evidence for a dose-response relationship between exercise and mental health. Exercise regimens with higher intensities, greater frequencies, and longer durations tend to lead to greater response rates in depressed populations. Interestingly, depression remission rates seem to peak at moderate levels of intensity, frequency, and duration suggesting that sustainability of a regimen is an important ingredient to consider when developing a program.

The setting that one exercises in also appears to play a role. Research has demonstrated that exposure to nature and so-called “green space” exerts powerful effects on mood and self-esteem. Exercising outdoors in a natural setting with trees and plants appears to be superior to exercising in an environment devoid of such “green” qualities. The positive effects rapidly develop with even just five minutes of outdoor time offering a very achievable goal even for busy individuals.

In addition to increasing serotonin turnover exercise seems to trigger a release of beta-endorphins. Endorphins are part of the brain’s endogenous opioid system and also tend to produce anxiolytic and antidepressant effects when released.

Finally, exercise engages an individual in an activation and approach set of behaviors that are diametrically opposed to passive and avoidant cognitive strategies classically found in depression and anxiety and many other psychopathological states. In this way exercise seems to operate on a similar theoretical framework as the psychotherapeutic technique known as behavioral activation. Behavioral activation targets behavior first rather than cognition as many other forms of psychotherapy do. It must be noted that although exercise may be a component of a behavioral activation treatment regimen, the psychotherapeutic technique utilizes many other activation strategies to catalyze change.

Read the full article here.

 

 

Adam Wahlberg

Adam Wahlberg


Founder of Think Piece Publishing

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