To Your Health
April, 2022 (Vol. 16, Issue 04)
Exercise for Depression
By Editorial Staff
Anxiety and depression are far too common, and global events over the past few years haven't helped; in fact, just the opposite. The potential remedy, however, is generally far less complex than the causes: exercise. Physical activity can reduce depression symptoms during and immediately after; and the benefits persist at levels non-exercisers don't enjoy.
For proof, let's turn to a recent study in which adults with major depressive episodes performed 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or sat for 30 minutes. Electronic surveys were used to assess participants' depression symptoms immediately before, 15 minutes into and immediately after the activity (exercising or sitting); and then 25, 50 and 65 minutes after.
The experiment was repeated one week later, with those who exercised in the first session sitting in the second session, and vice versa. Findings, published in Psychology of Sport and Exercise, revealed that exercisers' mood state and "anhedonia" (inability to experience pleasure, particularly from things one generally enjoys) both improved over the 30 minutes of exercise and up to 75 minutes after stopping exercise compared to non-exercisers. Improvement in anhedonia started to decline 75 minutes after exercise, but was still higher than non-exercisers.
People who suffer major depressive episodes experience symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD), more commonly known as clinical depression. MDD is more than just "the blues"; as the Mayo Clinic emphasizes, "you can't simply ‘snap out' of it." However, as the aforementioned study states, reducing symptoms via physical activity is a good place to start.