Essay on Effects of Exercise on Anxiety and Depression

978 Words Aug 25th, 2008 4 Pages
Critically Analyse the Research Findings on the Acute and Chronic Effects of Exercise on Anxiety and Depression

It has long been speculated that there is a relationship between exercise and it effects on anxiety and depression. However, it is not until recently that research has shown that exercise is associated with positive changes in mood and reductions in anxiety and depression. According to the Mental Health Victoria, depression is characterised by prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness and will affect one in four women and one in six men at some point in their lives. In the United States, anxiety disorders and depression are the most common mental health disorders costing the public $45 billion a year (Berger,
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One study conducted in 2005 examined the effects of a three-month exercise program on mild to moderate depression. Approximately 80 participants were divided into five groups. Two groups took on rigorous ‘public health dose’ program, one of them for three days a week and the other for five days a week. Another two groups instead participated in lighter ‘low-dose’ exercise three or five days a week. A fifth group, the control group, practiced stretching for flexibility. Ratings of depressive symptoms on the standard Hamilton scale fell in all five groups. However, the rigorous exercise program achieved the best results with a 47% decrease. This equates to an equivalent amount of effectiveness as antidepressant medications or cognitive behavioral therapy which are standard treatments for depression. The low-dose exercisers did no better than the control group, but even patients in these three groups showed some improvement. This relates back to evidence suggesting that moderate-intensity exercise in also beneficial in reducing depression and anxiety. Exercise has also been found equivalent to cognitive behavioural therapy and antidepressants in direct comparisons. One study compared aerobic exercise with antidepressant drugs or a combination of the two in patients with major depression. After 16 weeks, 60%-70% in all three groups had recovered from the depressive episode. However, the group

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