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Exercise Proven Effective Against Depression

By Brooke Huffman, ND

As the days get shorter (and wetter!), I start hearing my patients talk a lot about their mood taking a downward spiral. I discuss the importance of exercise as one of my most effective treatments, and here's why: yet another study has come out showing that exercise helps to reduce depression. This study looked at people who had heart failure. Depression affects nearly 50% of folks with this condition, so they are a good group to sample.

Researchers randomly assigned more than 2,300 patients to two groups. One group got the education and usual care for their health condition. The other group got supervised aerobic exercise for 90 minutes a week for three months, and then they did at-home aerobic exercises for 120 minutes a week for the next nine months.

At the end of one year, the group who was prescribed exercise reported moderate reductions in their symptoms of depression. Those who exercised more had greater reduction in their symptoms.

What's even more exciting than this? The study also found that higher rates of depression was linked to a 20% increase in death or hospitalization for ANY reason! This was not related to antidepressant use or the severity of their disease.

What kind of exercise is best? While walking, swimming and jogging seem best (ask your ND why), anything that gets you off the couch and moving your body can help improve your mood!