Breaking out of the shell of depression can be the most difficult mental challenge you may face in your life. Fortunately, another study is providing supporting evidence that exercise is the BEST medicine for depression! This disease, (yes, disease) is the fourth ranked global burden by The Global Burden of Disease, and effects more than 10% of us. Depression is difficult to treat because it can be hard to recognize, medications are not perfectly effective, and these medications can be very expensive, as well as, have serious side effects.

A collection of 58 studies (2,982 total people) about the anti-depressive effects of exercise were reviewed in the journal Sports Medicine. The researchers reviewed these studies to see if exercise would be considered adequate treatment for depression without medication. In addition, they looked to see if those diagnosed with depression did a better job adhering to an exercise program or taking depression medications.

Thanks to the work that these researchers put into reviewing these studies, exercise is now a Grade 1A (the highest level) recommendation for treating depression. In other words, regular exercise is just as effective (if not more) at treating depression! In addition, adherence to a regular exercise program was similar to adherence to a regular medication regimen. Those who exercised had lower levels of depression and some lower than when they were taking medications.

Exercise should definitely be part of your life for many reasons and especially if you are depressed. While I am not recommending that you stop taking your  medications, I am recommending that you strongly consider adding exercise to your schedule as recommended. It’s time to get up , feel good, sweat, and be healthy! You can start with this program!

Sports Medicine. 39(6):491-511. May 2009.
Rethorst, Chad D., Wipfli, Bradley M. and Landers, Daniel M.