Depression is one of the leading causes of disability and morbidity facing us today. Depression caused from job stress is the number one issue employers have attributed to the increasing trend toward lost time, lost productivity, and disability costs. This is not to mention the effects which depression has upon the people suffering from it or their families.
Some previous research has indicated that exercise can be helpful in alleviating the symptoms of depression which can be quite common in not just the over 50 crowd but in our youth. Research has shown that exercise, if performed on a regular basis, can be helpful in making those who suffer from depression feel less prone to experiencing discomforting symptoms.
A recent meta-analysis pooled together 37 random trials and studied the collective data. In a total population of 1,356 subjects, over 35 experimental trials where the depressive symptoms were measured and exercise interventions were also compared (with no interventions or a control) indicated that those who were exercising showed a moderate improvement in depressive symptoms relative to those subjects who did not exercise.
In fact, when other clinical trials were assessed which had longer follow up times, the positive effects of exercise over depressive symptoms were sustained.
This study was rather interesting in that the researchers failed to show an improvement on the quality of life of subjects who had been exercising. However, this is likely due to the fact that the necessary degree of exercise intensity necessary to generate the helpful brainchemical endorphins which can provide a sense of well-being was probably attained.
One noted expert, Dr.Karasu, professor of psychiatry remarked that exercise “wouldn’t be expected to relieve depression unless it is done at a level to generate endorphins, which means running at a speed of 6.5 to 6.7 miles per hour for at least 10 minutes,” he said.
“I seriously doubt most depressed patients can do this; some can’t even get out of bed. Even the average non-depressed person cannot run at this level to generate endorphins. But for depressive mood, any exercise will help bring you out of a gloomy state; social activities will also help.”
Although this is a valid point, this study did not generate any information regarding the best forms of exercise to complete, the duration and intensity required, and the length of time required to notice a result.
In my opinion, the best form of exercise is a combined protocol which uses cardiovascular, weight-training, and relaxation strategies. Cardiovascular exercise should be completed daily for at least 20-45 minutes at a moderate pace. Begin with walking and then progress to cycling, rowing, or cross-training cardio machines.
Weight-training can be performed three to four times per week for 20-25 minutes using a circuit format. The weights, rest periods, and number of circuits performed can also be managed based upon your level of capability. Relaxation exercises can be done in a class format or individually taught to you. You should perform them before and after each workout in addition to after you wake up and before retiring every night.
A consistent effort will improve the way you feel, give you a better sense of control over yourself and increase your sense of well-being. This will definitely affect your quality of life if you sustain your exercise program.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Brooks, M., “Exercise’s Antidepressant Effects Strengthened,” MedScapeweb site, last accessed Sept. 23, 2013.
Mead, G., et al., “Exercise for depression,”Cochrane Database Syst. Rev 2013;9:CD004366