Moderate Aerobic Exercise Can Produce Antidepressant Effects

water aerobics

If you suffer from depression and anxiety, exercise that gets your heart pumping several times a week may help to ease symptoms, according to new research.

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 11 studies covering 455 patients. The participants engaged in moderate aerobic exercise an average of 45 minutes, three times per week, for nine weeks. Results, published in the journal Depression and Anxiety, found that those who engaged in aerobic exercise experienced a “significantly large antidepressant effect.”

Results also showed that it didn’t really matter how the exercise was done – whether with equipment or not, and inside or outside. The researchers concluded that aerobic exercise is an “effective antidepressant intervention.”

The reason exercise may help to alleviate depression is that it leads to the release of endorphins, the so-called “feel-good chemicals,” in the brain and central nervous system. There is also evidence that regular exercise helps to improve brain function.

Other types of exercise have been shown to alleviate depression. Resistance training, such as using free weights or weight machines, significantly reduces depressive symptoms, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry earlier this year.

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is a freelance writer and former MedShadow content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including BioCentury, The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.

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