"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Exercise treats depression in addition to therapy, a study says

February 15, 2024 – Many common types of exercise are only as effective as therapy in treating depression, based on a brand new study.

In the study presented in The BMJResearchers reported that walking, yoga, jogging and strength training were essentially the most effective exercises, especially when done intensively.

“These forms of exercise could be considered along with psychotherapy and antidepressants as core treatments for depression,” the study authors wrote.

Depression is a number one reason for disability worldwide, the authors said. It lowers life satisfaction greater than debt, divorce and diabetes. It also worsens diseases equivalent to heart disease, anxiety and cancer.

Many people respond well to medication and psychotherapy. However, some people have medication-resistant depression or have limited access to medication. About half of individuals with depression seek treatment.

The researchers analyzed data from 218 studies on depression and exercise involving around 14,000 people.

While there was a risk of bias within the studies, the whole-body advantages of exercise combined with data suggesting it helps with depression make it an efficient treatment option, said Michael Noetel of the University of Queensland in Australia , the lead writer of the study, on CNN.com.

Previous studies have made similar claims in regards to the advantages of exercise, Adam Chekroud of the Yale School of Medicine told CNN. He was not involved on this study.

Chekroud said exercise is a superb approach to treating depression, together with other options, including therapy and medicine.

“None of these treatments are a silver bullet. “But given the burden that depression brings, almost all patients should be offered both exercise and therapy,” Noetel said.

“The study found that more exercise and higher exercise intensity are better, but you don't have to start training like a professional athlete,” CNN reported. “The intensity of the exercise made the biggest difference.”