Exercise Away the Blues

Are feeling down in the dumps? Perhaps you are feeling a bit overwhelmed or stressed and, as a result, you are finding it difficult to face the day before you. Whether you are suffering from a major bout of depression or you simply aren’t feeling “quite right,” exercise might be the answer to your problem!

According to Dr. Andrew Leuchter, who is a professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human behavior, being physically active appears “to have significant effects in terms of elevating mood.”

In a recent LA Times article, Leuchter went on to say, “If people are on medication or in treatment and haven’t had a complete recovery from depression, exercise is useful in getting them all the way there.”

In fact, Dr. Leuchter says that physical activity is often added to cognitive behavioral therapy and medication in order to help patients who are suffering from depression. This is because he says exercise affect the brain in a number of ways and helps get people back to “their usual level of activity.” This can then help inspire patients to start reconnecting with family and friends and to become more motivated.

“The psychological benefits make a big difference from my perspective,” says James Blumenthal, who is a professor of medical psychology at Duke University in Durham, N.C., in the LA Times article. “People have a greater sense of being in control. They feel better about themselves and have more self-confidence.”

These doctors aren’t just talking from professional experience, however, as many studies have been conducted regarding the effects of exercise on mood elevation. In 2007, for example, the journal Psychosomatic Medicine published a study on 202 men and women who were suffering from major depression. These individuals performed home-based exercises while also taking either an antidepressant or a placebo. By the end of the 16 week study, 41% of the participants no longer suffered from the disorder, including those who were taking a placebo.

Another study, which appeared in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine in 2005, divided 80 men and women into four groups. Three groups performed exercises at varying intensities and durations, while the fourth group just did stretching. By the end of the study, those who did the most exercising – about 40 minutes per day for 5 days per week – showed the greatest improvement.

Although scientists still aren’t sure why the exercise helps improve mood, the research is quite clear. So, if you are looking for a little pick-me-up, head over to the AtHomeFitness home page and start looking through all of the great exercise equipment we have to offer!