Tag Archives: Exercise Benefits

Exercise Is Helpful for Anxiety and Depression

Systematic reviews of available literature demonstrate that regular exercise confers significant reductions in the symptoms that are associated with both depression and anxiety. These beneficial effects have been reported more commonly in adults than in adolescents, but extensive, high-quality studies have not yet been conducted in groups of young people.

As is the case with other medical conditions that improve with exercise, depression seems to respond better to higher-intensity levels of activity than it does to low-energy exercise. A weekly expenditure of at least 17.5 kcal per kilogram of body weight (about 8 kcal per pound) is required for significant improvement in depressive symptoms. However, in contrast to cardiovascular disease or hypertension – both of which respond best to aerobic conditioning – either aerobic exercise or resistance training seems to offer benefits for persons suffering from depression.

Exercise and Yoga Offer Hope for Depressed Patients

Scientists have discovered that the positive effects of exercise are the same whether depressed individuals participate in supervised group activities or unsupervised exercise in the home or gym. Thus, many forms of activity would appear to be candidates for alleviating depression – particularly those that expend a sufficiently high amount of energy.

Unfortunately, one of the primary symptoms shared by depressed persons is a lack of motivation; for such individuals, less vigorous activities that still conferred benefit would be ideal. Alas, clinical trials that have evaluated the antidepressant effects of low-intensity exercise demonstrate no significant improvement in symptoms among study subjects. For example, meditation, tai chi, and qigong – all more restful, “mind-based” forms of recreation that certainly confer their own benefits – do not appear to ameliorate the troubling symptoms that are typically reported by depressed persons (3).

Yoga and high-intensity exercise, on the other hand, have repeatedly demonstrated their depression-fighting effects in multiple studies. For both anxiety and depression – conditions that share many of the same symptoms and which are often treated with similar medications – exercise and yoga compare favorably with conventional treatments, and both are viable alternatives to standard pharmaceutical and psychotherapeutic modalities.