Thursday, January 18, 2007

Feel Depressed-Try Exercising - Corinne Prainito

Many studies show that long-term exercise helps relieve symptoms of depression. Even if you’re not depressed, most people — who periodically feel grumpy, irritable, stressed, or sad — report feeling better after working out.

A new study, conducted by Dr John B. Bartholomew and colleagues (2005), tells us that just one 30-minute bout of moderate intensity exercise is enough to improve the mood of patients with major depressive disorder, a serious clinical condition. The study’s authors believe that this single-session mood lift also applies to those of us who just feel down.

The study compared 30 minutes of quiet rest and 30 minutes of walking on a treadmill at 60-70% of each patient’s age-predicted heart rate maximum. While both activities were found to reduce feelings of confusion, tension, anger, distress and fatigue, only exercise was found to significantly improve the patients’ vigor and sense of wellbeing. These beneficial changes tapered off by 60 minutes after the completion of their assigned tasks.

The researchers suggest that these results may be due to biochemical changes that occur during exercise or may be related to a sense of achievement that comes with the successful completion of an activity, or both.

The results of this study do not prove that a single walk or bout of exercise will provide lasting clinical effects against depression, but they do suggest that a brief walk might be a cheap and easy way to get a much-needed emotional lift. This lift could prove invaluable to people who cannot tolerate the adverse effects of antidepressants or to those who have just commenced pharmacologic treatment. In this case, symptomatic relief can take anywhere from two to eight weeks to be achieved.

The investigators conclude that the findings are promising enough to warrant further study "to determine the limits of acute exercise to provide this short-term benefit."

Main Reference:
Bartholomew, J. B., Morrison, D., & Ciccolo, J. T. (2005, December). Effects of Acute Exercise on Mood and Well-Being in Patients with Major Depressive Disorder. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 37(12): 2032-2037.

Corinne Prainito, BSc (ExHealthSc), Adv Dip Nat

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