Mental Health & Exercise can reduce clinical depression! Exercise can be as effective as medication or psychotherapy

Benefits of Mental Health Exercise

Studies have demonstrated that exercise can be as effective as medication or psychotherapy

Benefits of Exercise and Mental Health from Mental

There is a substantial body of evidence to show a causal link between physical activity and reduced clinically defined depression, and comparative studies have demonstrated that exercise can be as effective as medication or psychotherapy. Exercise has been associated with reduced anxiety, decreased depression, enhanced mood, improved self-worth and body image, as well as improved cognitive functioning. According to the National Institute For Clinical Excellence: “For patients with depression, in particular those with mild or moderate depressive disorder, structured and supervised exercise can be an effective intervention that has a clinically significant impact on depressive symptoms.” In view of this, there are several reasons for using exercise therapy as a first-line treatment in primary care:
  • Exercise has far fewer negative side effects than antidepressants – indeed, it has a number of co-incidental benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and obesity.
  • Exercise can be used to treat patients who have a mix of physical and mental health problems – it is a holistic care option.
  • Exercise is a sustainable behaviour change. Once the exercise habit is learned, it can be integrated to form part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
  • Exercise does not carry the stigma sometimes associated with medication or counseling.
  • Exercise is a popular treatment– in one survey, 85 per cent of people with mental health problems who used exercise as a treatment said they found it helpful.
  • Exercise can give patients a sense of power over their recovery, which in itself counteracts the feelings of hopelessness often experienced in depression.
  • According to the Chief Medical Officer: “Physical activity is effective in the treatment of clinical depression, and can be as successful as psychotherapy or medication, particularly in the long term.”
  • In its guidelines for treating depression, the National Institute For Clinical Excellence recommends that: “Patients of all ages should be advised of the benefits of following a structured and supervised exercise program of typically up to three sessions per week of moderate duration (45 minutes to one hour) for between 10 and 12 weeks.