Since 1949 May has been designated as National Mental Health Month for the purpose of eliminating the stigma associated with mental illness by raising awareness. One of the most common mental health conditions is depression. New research from Boston University School of Public Health has found that depression has been increasing in the United States and life with COVID for more than two years has accelerated it rapidly. In 2021 the number of people suffering from depression increased more than 32 percent, affecting 1 in every 3 American adults. However, research also has good news to offer: one of the most understated benefits of exercise is mental health! Specifically, aerobic exercise (exercise that increases your heart rate for 30 minutes or more) such as walking, biking, running, swimming, hiking, elliptical & stepper machines to name a few, is the secret to “runner’s high.” This exercise euphoria is not limited to runners alone, but all who engage in aerobic exercise are more likely to experience high energy, positive attitude, and mental wellness.
Physical activity, specifically aerobic exercise, is a scientifically proven useful tool for preventing and easing depression symptoms. Studies in the British Journal of Medicine and the Journal of Exercise and Sports Science found that depression scores were significantly reduced in groups that engaged in aerobic running, jogging or walking programs, 30-45 minutes 3-5 days per week for 10-12 weeks when compared to a control group and a psychotherapy counseling group.
Depression is the most common mental disorder and is twice as common among women as in men. Symptoms include: fatigue, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, decreased sexual interest, weight change, and constipation. Many of these symptoms are likely to bring an individual to their family physician.
According to research, exercise reduces depression in two ways, psychologically (mentally) and physiological (physically).
Psychological or Mental Benefits of Exercise on Depression:
Physiological or Physical Benefits of Exercise on Depression:
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This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.
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