Exercise for the Treatment of Depression and Anxiety

Department of Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston 29406, USA.
The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine (Impact Factor: 0.81). 01/2011; 41(1):15-28. DOI: 10.2190/PM.41.1.c
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Depression and anxiety are the most common psychiatric conditions seen in the general medical setting, affecting millions of individuals in the United States. The treatments for depression and anxiety are multiple and have varying degrees of effectiveness. Physical activity has been shown to be associated with decreased symptoms of depression and anxiety. Physical activity has been consistently shown to be associated with improved physical health, life satisfaction, cognitive functioning, and psychological well-being. Conversely, physical inactivity appears to be associated with the development of psychological disorders. Specific studies support the use of exercise as a treatment for depression. Exercise compares favorably to antidepressant medications as a first-line treatment for mild to moderate depression and has also been shown to improve depressive symptoms when used as an adjunct to medications. While not as extensively studied, exercise has been shown to be an effective and cost-efficient treatment alternative for a variety of anxiety disorders. While effective, exercise has not been shown to reduce anxiety to the level achieved by psychopharmaceuticals.

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    • "It is well established that there is a substantial association between physical activity and mental state. Recent data suggest that physical exercise may reduce depressive symptoms and have a therapeutic benefit in patients with major depression, (Blumenthal et al., 2007; Carek et al., 2011; Dinas et al., 2011; Legrand and Heuze, 2007; Oeland et al., 2010; Strohle, 2009) although it is not clear which type and intensity of exercise is most effective (Cooney et al., 2013; Krogh et al., 2011; Stanton and Reaburn, 2014). Furthermore, most studies investigating the influence of physical exercise on mood showed a significant positive relationship between levels of physical activity and the absence of mood disorders like anxiety or depression (Galper et al., 2006; Goodwin, 2003; van Gool et al., 2007), but it seems doubtful to conclude causality from these cross-sectional analyses because depression symptoms are also characterized by fatigue and loss of energy which may themselves lead to a decrease in activity. "
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    ABSTRACT: Recent data suggest a substantial association between physical activity and depressive symptoms, but there is a lack of research evaluating the physical activity levels in patients suffering from unipolar depression across different stages of disease in an objective way. The aim of the present pilot study was to objectively examine physical activity levels of this patient group compared to healthy controls. Physical activity performance of 19 patients with major depressive episode and 19 healthy controls was assessed at three different time points using a multisensory armband device (SenseWear® Pro3 Armband) and was reported as total energy expenditure (TEE), active energy expenditure (EE), metabolic equivalents (METs), physical activity (PA) and time of lying down (LD), in each case over 24h. Over all measurements, depressive patients presented a significantly lower mean TEE and EE over 24h. Moreover, the patient group showed significantly shorter duration of PA and lower average MET over 24h. When depressive symptoms abated, physical activity parameters significantly increased in the patient group. Correlation analyses demonstrated a significant relation between depressive status/anhedonia and parameters of physical activity, especially in healthy subjects. Results represented valid data for inpatients only. Acute unipolar depression was associated with a significantly lower level of physical activity and showed a significant increase in parallel to clinical improvement. Electronic monitoring of physical activity may be an additional tool for evaluating and controlling therapeutic effects. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier B.V.
    Journal of Affective Disorders 12/2014; 174C:310-316. DOI:10.1016/j.jad.2014.11.060 · 3.71 Impact Factor
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    • "Nature experience has been associated with higher levels of physical activity, lower levels of mortality and chronic disease, improved self-esteem, and improved immune function [35] [36] [37] [38]. It is clear that many people use natural areas to be physically active, and it is certain that physical activity carries benefits for mental health [150] [151]. It is not clear, however, whether the mere presence of a natural environment is a causal factor in perceived regularity of or benefits from physical activity [152] [153] [154] [155]. "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper summarizes the discussions from the Natural Environments Initiative meeting hosted by the Harvard School of Public Health’s Center for Global Health and the Environment and the Harvard Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies in October 2013. It presents ongoing worldwide research on health benefits stemming from exposure to natural environments and design cues with particular attention applications in urban environments. This meeting generated a Workshop statement forged by the participants that affirms the health benefits of nature and presents the need for additional collaborative, transdisciplinary to refine salutogenic planning and design practices. Workshop participants represented disciplinary and professional perspectives from medicine, landscape architecture, public heath, and forestry science rooted in the cultural, ecological and political realities of a dozen countries and five continents. When framing the benefits of nature, they considered health outcomes including mental health disorders, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic disorders, allergies, cardiovascular disease, and more. Many environmental factors (including those related to physical activity, residential planning, environmental contamination and severe weather attributed to climate change) mediate these health outcomes at local, regional and global levels. This paper provides an illustrative review that captures many relevant studies discussed during the workshop. Although not exhaustive, our review indicates that the available evidence is applicable to various populations and ecological settings, and broadly supports the association of improved health outcomes with exposure to natural environments. Full report available at:
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    • "Further, evidence suggests that regular exercise is related to better cognitive functioning (Hillman et al., 2008) and physical and mental well-being (Penedo & Dahn, 2005). Exercise has also been shown to be an effective treatment for mild to moderate depression (Carek et al., 2011; Dunn et al., 2005). However, physical activity levels 1 in the US are extremely low, with\5 % of the adult population achieving recommended levels of objectivelymeasured activity (Troiano et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Individuals who are intrinsically motivated to exercise are more likely to do so consistently. In previous research, those with at least one copy of the methionine (met) allele in the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene (BDNF; rs6265) had greater increases in positive mood and lower perceived exertion during exercise. This study examined whether genotype for BDNF is also related to intrinsic motivation, measured by self-report during a treadmill exercise session and a free-choice behavioral measure (continuing to exercise given the option to stop) among 89 regular exercisers (age M = 23.58, SD = 3.95). Those with at least one copy of the met allele reported greater increases in intrinsic motivation during exercise and were more likely to continue exercising when given the option to stop (55 vs. 33 %). Results suggest that underlying genetic factors may partially influence perceptions of inherent rewards associated with exercise and might inform the development of individually targeted interventions.
    Journal of Behavioral Medicine 05/2014; 37(6). DOI:10.1007/s10865-014-9567-4 · 3.10 Impact Factor
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