New research suggests that exercise may be more effective than therapy and medications for treating mental health problems, but don’t ditch your therapist and Zoloft just yet.
of Promising research review In a study published late last month in the British Journal of Sports Medicine titled “Effectiveness of physical activity interventions to improve depression, anxiety and distress,” researchers found that physical activity: Up to 1.5 times more effective than counseling or your doctor About certain kinds of mental health problems.
This is another important validation, but there are caveats to this study.
“Physical activity can significantly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in all clinical populations.”
The University of South Australia (UniSA) review, called Science Daily’s “most comprehensive to date,” found that among healthy individuals, those with mental health problems, and those with chronic physical conditions, And what’s exciting, if not wholly surprising, is that, as UniSA principal investigator Dr. Ben Singh told Science Daily, “We reviews found that physical activity interventions Significant reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety in all clinical populations, some groups show signs of even greater improvement. ”
The little word “everything” is important.
Singh added, “Higher exercise intensity improved depression and anxiety,” but added that “any type of physical exercise, including aerobic exercise such as walking, resistance training, Pilates, and yoga, was more effective.” Activity and exercise were beneficial.”
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We instinctively know that moving around makes us feel better. “An early morning walk is the blessing of the day,” wrote Henry David Thoreau. Scientific research on the benefits of fitness goes back decades. A study published in The Physician and Sports Medicine in 1978 found it to be an “effective supplement to psychotherapy for treating depressed patients.” Also, his 1985 study published in Public Health advised that “physical activity and exercise may provide beneficial adjuncts to alcoholism and substance abuse programs.”
There are many reasons why exercise is so powerful for our mental health. The easiest to identify are the immediate and external ones. Practicing regularly and safely can help boost your self-confidence and increase your strength and sense of accomplishment. “Exercise helps develop a sense of purpose by providing structure and giving us something to strive for. Flora Sadri Azarbayejanimedical director cycle health in Boston. “This increases self-efficacy, or the belief that you can achieve your goals.”
With sleep deprivation becoming a nationwide epidemic, physical activity can also help improve sleep quality. This is a huge and often overlooked component of overall mental health.
There are more. Dr. Joseph Tranzoprofessor and chair of the Department of Psychology at Bryant University and president-elect of the Rhode Island Psychological Society, points to the benefits of catharsis. You can find peace and tranquility to let go of anger.” He also said, “You may be able to vent your anger through exercise. Exercise can distract you from unpleasant thoughts.” I’m here.
But science shows that the benefits go deeper. Exercise affects stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. “This allows the body to physically expel any stress or trauma that may be stuck in it,” says certified professional clinical counselor and owner of Cedar Rose Counseling & Wellness. Katie McLaughlin explains. “It also helps your nervous system learn to adjust, which means you can recover from stress faster.” It also produces a lot of neurochemicals, so we can’t get too scientific here,” she says. “BDNF makes it easier to think of useful and positive thoughts. By enhancing the brain’s ability to create entirely new neural pathways and connections.” And since creating these new thoughts and patterns is also the foundation of cognitive-behavioral therapy, exercise is a good candidate for cognitive-behavioral therapy. It’s easy to see how useful it can be for some people. CBT including individuals with OCD, PTSD and anxiety disorders.
The assumption that working out, or working out in ways that aren’t effective for all bodies, is a cure for mental illness is a very disheartening message for people with depression who have trouble getting out of bed. .
Some of the most fascinating research on this has linked the effects of exercise on the human endocannabinoid system. Important role in emotional processingHarvard Health explains: “We all have a little cannabis-like molecule in our brains.” A recent study from Wayne State University found that “Exercise definitely increases endocannabinoid levels in the body.” In other words, Runner’s High looks like the real deal — and endorphins aren’t the only game in town.
But despite the encouraging benefits of physical activity, mental health is not a panacea. Exercise can be a component of a strong mental health plan, but too much can lead to symptoms of underlying problems. Excessive exercise behavior is often associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder and addictionas well as people with body dysmorphisms and eating disorders.
Dr. Flora Sadri-Azarbayejani points out that “physical activity, such as injury and overtraining, carries certain risks and should be properly monitored and managed.” Sadri-Azarbayejani continues:
The assumption that working out, or working out in ways that aren’t effective for all bodies, is a cure for mental illness is a very disheartening message for people with depression who have trouble getting out of bed. Clinical Psychologist in Los Angeles Dr. Lauren Cook “Other people may be able to go out for a run fairly easily, but if someone is struggling with mental health, it can be a tremendous task. If so, medication and therapy can provide a stepping stone for improvement.”
Exercise does not replace other forms of mental health treatment or maintenance, but it is certainly effective enough to make you wonder why it is not routinely incorporated into conversations about exercise.a 2018 Study in Michigan “A full 84% of respondents [physical activity] Mood and anxiety levels were high and 85% wanted to be more active, [mental health] Providers with whom we regularly discuss [physical activity] with them. ”
It may be because exercise takes time and effort. It should be a part of everyone’s life according to their ability level, but we live in a first aid culture where literally thousands of dollars are spent on drugs that keep Americans from eating. If you really want the mental health benefits of physical activity, you need to be realistic about how committed and consistent you are to prioritizing physical activity.
All the memes that say mental health isn’t a panacea, that a walk in the woods is an antidepressant, but that drugs are somehow “shit” no one really helpedAs London Counseling Psychologist Dr Raphael Antonino, therapy central“Exercise alone can rarely solve mental health problems. Exercise alone can rarely eliminate all symptoms, especially if the problem is quite serious and has a long history. , still have depression, anxiety, or other problems.”
I know the life-changing effects of therapy and medication, and have seen it first-hand in my family and myself. We also know that you will feel less anxious throughout the day and sleep better at night.
This is not a competition. It’s a toolkit. We all need to work with our mental health providers to figure out how best to structure ourselves without denying one aspect of treatment over the other. Raffaello Antonino, PhD reminds us, “Exercise, medication, and psychotherapy are all three ways of dealing with mental health problems, and are not mutually exclusive.”
About the mind-body connection