Reciprocal Relationship Found Between Exercise and Depression

When you are struggling with depression, it can be harder to be physically active. When you are physically active, you are more likely to feel higher levels of mental well-being.

A new study is the latest to examine how exercise and depression impact one another. It found that being inactive and depressed could be a self-feeding cycle. But, it seemed to be broken by getting up and exercising. They also found that long-term inactivity might have worse effects than long-term depression.

This supports studies that have found that going to the gym, walking, dancing or gardening can boost your physical and mental health. The impact can be similar to taking antidepressants.  

The study followed a diverse group of 3,499 Americans from 1986 until 2011. The study adjusted for biology, family history, socioeconomic differences and other variables.

They concluded that exercise and mental health impact each other. Moving more can help daily mood. Long-term, exercising regularly will improve your overall health. Leaving depression symptoms unchecked can lead to physical inactivity and health problems.

What really matters is that people make informed decisions about how to treat their mental health symptoms, particularly with the knowledge that physical activity continues to be one of the best ways to improve the health of individuals and their communities — yet, more people need to understand how depression symptoms can influence this process,” said study author Soli Dubash, a doctoral candidate in the Univ. of Toronto.

Exercise is a great way to treat depression as it doesn’t come with the side effects of medication. Of course, exercise can cause aches and pains, and you should speak to your doctor about the safest exercise for you. But, as you can exercise at home or outside, it can be a free way to treat a medical problem!

You should have a conversation with your doctor about all of your symptoms. That way, you can figure out a routine that works for you. Some people may require medication along with exercise to treat their depression and get the most out of their treatment.

Better understanding the reciprocal relationship between mental health and physical activity can help people make evidence-based decisions about their health,” said Mr. Dubash. “It’s important to allow people to reach their own decisions about the causes and consequences of physical activity and depression symptoms, and to grasp the impact that moving more — or less — can have on mood and overall health.”

Banner image: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels

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