“What's the secret on depression and exercise?”

depression and exercise

The 'secret' on depression and exercise is out! Thanks to the medical research of psychologist James Blumenthal, PhD, and colleagues at Duke University, we know exactly how powerful the link between depression and exercise. What you do with your body affects your head!

This is fabulous news for you if you want to move away from depending on drugs to relieve your depression.

"Aerobic exercise can produce substantial improvement in mood in patients with major depressive disorders in a short time." (Dimeo, Freie M.D. - 2001 - Universitaet Berlin, Benjamin Franklin Medical Center, Department of Sports Medicine, Berlin, Germany)

Consider also this important quote on depression and exercise...

“Exercise may be the most underrated and yet the most important behavioral strategy to recommend to clients. Walking is so easy, yet few people realize its importance. A 20-minute walk three times a week is beneficial to health in many ways.” – Zunkel, Gretchen M. RN, Psy NP, PhD,(Depressive Disorders: Treatment With Nonpharmacological Alternatives / Complimentary Health Practice Review, 2003)

Depression and exercise truly don't mix!

“Do I have to start jogging?”

In her 2002 book, Move your body, tone your mood, psychologist Kate Hays, PhD reported that for many people, walking, running, or swimming is helpful, but some people value yoga/pilates. Others feel emotionally as well as physically strengthened by weight lifting.

"How do you experiment with your depression and exercise?"

“When I suffered from depression, I started to walk at least 20 minutes a day and boy what a difference even that little bit made! Then, once I was able to move beyond this, I added other exercise like lifting small weights, and playing Badminton weekly at the community adult drop-in centre. Now I am up to walking at least an hour per day, the occasional run and weekly adult mixed soccer!”- Merri Ellen, your friendly web-editor.

"What is the ideal depression and exercise plan you should work towards with the help of your doctor?"

Research suggests that 3x per week, getting 35 minutes of aerobic exercise each time is a powerful cure for depression.

>> Now, before you get discouraged - out of my own depression, I managed to achieve this. There's no reason you can't do it too. I'll share with you my secret to help you get started...

"How do you start a successful exercise plan?"

Good question. The better question is, "How do you start and STICK with a depression and exercise plan?" The answer? You need a coach. When I was an aerobics and fitness instructor in college, I was also a personal coach. As a result, I had the pleasure of helping my fellow college classmates lose that freshman 15 and SEE it happen before my eyes. On the days the girls were unmotivated, I was there, as their coach, to 'kick them in the butt' with a smile and a 'you can do it!' As a result, they reaped the rewards!

I too sometimes need a good kick in the butt especially after suffering from postpartum depression. That's why after having my first baby, I needed help with my depression and exercise plan. I called on the coaching of Tom, my fitness coach. I keep his manual saved on my desktop to refer to over and over.

When You Need Support

We all need a little help in motivation at times. Tom has also created an online fitness support community. This is great if you need that extra motivation to get moving to beat your depression through physical fitness.

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There is hope! You are worth it!

Merri Ellen

Your friendly web editor

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Back to home from Depression and Exercise


Cited Research on Depression and Exercise

Babyak, M. A., Blumenthal, J. A., Herman, S., Khatri, P., Doraiswamy, P. M., Moore, K. A., Craighead, W. E., Baldewicz, T. T., & Krishnan, K. R. (2000). Exercise treatment for major depression: Maintenance of therapeutic benefit at 10 months. Psychosomatic Medicine, Vol. 62. pp. 633-638.

Blumenthal, J. A., Babyak, M.A., Moore, K. A., Craighead, W. E., Herman, S., Khatri, P., Waugh, R., Napolitano, M. A., Forman, L. M., Appelbaum, M., Doraiswamy, P. M., & Krishnan, K. R. (1999). Effects of exercise training on older patients with major depression. Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 159 pp. 2349-2356.

North, T. C., P. McCullagh, and Z. V. Tran. (1990). Effect of exercise on depression. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews Vol. 18 pp. 379-415.

Zunkel, Gretchen M. RN, Psy NP, PhD. (2003) Depressive Disorders: Treatment With Nonpharmacological Alternatives. Complimentary Health Practice Review/ Depression and Exercise / http://bjsm.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/abstract/35/2/114

Additional Sources on Depression and Exercise

Hays, K. F. (1999). Working it Out: Using Exercise in Psychotherapy. Washington, DC: APA.

Hays, K. F. (2002). Move your body, tone your mood. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.

Johnsgard, K. W. (2004). Conquering Depression and Anxiety Through Exercise. New York: Prometheus.

Leith, L. M. (1998). Exercising your way to better mental health. Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology.

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