Psychiatric disorders can be helped through exercise. This is the message that delegates at last month's Psych Congress 2012: US Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress were told. There certainly is a body of studies, research and evidence to suggest that not only is exercise useful as part of a therapy program but for certain psychological conditions it can act as a valuable therapeutic treatment.
A mood lifter and a way of getting your brain into gear and feeling motivated; the perfect antidote to feeling connected and balanced. The link between psychiatry, health and fitness is highlighted well by one important study in the late 90s at the Duke University Medical Center. This looked at the effect of exercise on depression.
The Duke study involved 156 older patients who had a major depressive disorder diagnosis. They were split into three groups, one of which exercised only, another which only took medication and a third that combined exercise and medicine. All the groups showed a significant improvement in their levels of depression after 16 weeks, and this includes the group who only exercised and took no medication.
Another important part of the study is that the amount of exercise that the participants were doing was not that intensive. The groups were studied over four months and their routine included a 30 minute walk or jog round a track three times a week.
It's fair to say that recently this topic was raised in the media after a study published in the British Medical Journal was touted in the press as proof that exercise doesn't help you feel less depressed. However, on closer inspection, what the study focused on was not whether the groups who participated in the exercises but the effect of facilitated physical activity intervention, which does not reflect the actual amount of exercise of each group..
Other groups have been under the research spotlight in relation to how exercise affects certain mental pathways too. A recent study suggested that exercise can help lift depression in expectant mothers and also lead to better bonding once the infant is born. Other reports have also found a positive correlation between exercise and how youngsters perceive their body image.
What is true is that the hormones that are released when you exercise are generally the so-called 'happy hormones' and any mood enhancer must have an overall positive effect on how you feel about yourself, other people and life in general. Whether exercise alone is enough to tackle certain psychological problems is interesting and worthy of more research. Meanwhile, do you want to bring some mind-body balance back into your life? We can help you find that happy exercise medium. Get in touch.