Treating Depression with Exercise

How exercise could treat depressive disorder

It is believed that about 19 million Americans are suffering from depression. And only about a quarter of those individuals actually seek medication for their clinical depression with 10% receiving proper care. However, medical researches have discovered a new remedy for depression that almost anyone could take full advantage of it. That remedy is none other than a simple exercise.

In one depressive disorder study involving 80 adults who are aged between 20 to 45 years old, and suffering from mild to moderate depression, the medical researchers used only exercise to treat their condition and found the following:

  • After 12 weeks, the symptoms of depression were reduced almost by half for those patients who did a 30 minutes session of aerobic exercises, three to five sessions per week.
  • Those who did less rigorous exercises for three to five days per week achieved a 30 percent improvements in their symptoms.
  • Patients who just did simple stretching exercises for 15 to 20 minutes, three days per week have their depressive disorder symptom reduced by 29 percent.

These results that solely rely on physical exercises are similar to those done on other studies that involved antidepressants treatments or cognitive therapy. As such it has proven that patients do not have to depend on drugs to manage their depression.

It is crucial to set a target of 60 to 90 minutes of exercises per day for every day if you intend to use this method. And very obviously, you will also need to slowly work your way up to this stage based on your existing physical condition. Besides, exercises that are weight-bearing, like jogging, walking, running, Nordic Track and Health Rider are more beneficial compared to swimming and cycling. Elliptical machines is a good piece of equipment if you can have access to your health club.

Swimming and cycling has their own problems and will take a much longer time to produce similar benefits. If you cycle outdoors, you will run the risk of being knocked down and killed or injured by motor vehicles. Swimming also has it own problems as it is usually done in pools that are chlorinated. If you swim in the open sea, the salt water will gives a great synergism that would far exceeds the actual value of the exercise itself.

Having said that, the biggest obstacles that are faced by most people who have not done any exercises for a prolonged period is to get started. Just by having the thought of beginning an exercise regime is already intimidating. So what is the best activity to get started? Walking is a great and wonderful way to get one started on exercising. Walking is a very low impact exercise and is easy on our joints.

In fact, walking is so simple that most people could fit it into their day. Also one of the most cost effective method to exercise as it only requires a good pair of walking shoe. You can practically walk about anywhere and at anytime.

So how is it that walking is a workout?

It all depends on your initial level of fitness. If you are currently in a poor shape, then a slow-paced walking exercise will benefits you, but if you are starting from a better condition, you will need to walk farther and faster to gain any results. Regardless of your level, you will gain more effects for your condition, if the more vigorous your walking exercises are. When exercising by walking, one should walk with a steady and consistent pace which is fast enough to cause your heart rate to increase.

In normal circumstances, many people managed to increase their level of fitness relatively fast while walking, and one of the ways to continue to push themselves enough while walking is to use a treadmill with incline. This method definitely works well especially during the months of cold winter, but less for those who wish to have outdoor exercises to enjoy the nice weather. Some of the benefits of emotional health exercises include:

  • Ability to feel better.
  • Manage to get a better sleep at night.
  • Have a better positive outlook for themselves overall.

The major practical problem to overcome depression using exercise, however, is the lack of desire to pursue any form of activities, let alone exercise. On the contrary, needs will also have to be considered. It does not mean that a person will not get depressed if he or she exercises regularly. Though exercise enables a person to recover from depressive disorder, but it does not mean that it will certainly works for everyone. If this case applies to you, then you might need to consider other methods like Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) which is an energy psychology tool to tackle the underlying emotional root cause of your depression.

For serious sufferers of depression, it is not advisable to use this tool on your own, but rather use it as a supplement to work with an EFT practitioner who are well trained. A lot of these therapists do offer free phone sessions where questions could be asked to determine the suitability of such therapy.

Other than all the above, having an optimized diet is certainly a crucial step towards your depression treatment, and getting enough of omega-3 fats is amongst the most important diet. So ensure that you get enough of it to stay out of depression.