Other recent studies have shown a link between exercise and reduced depression. A of 11 previous studies, for example, found that exercise appeared to be a significant help to those with depression and suggested doctors begin incorporating it into treatment plans.
This was a moderate sized study, and one study by itself doesn’t prove much – any more than From personal experience I think there’s a good chance strenuous aerobic exercise can boost mood… but this is a reminder that the picture on exercise and depression is not quite as clear as the recent enthusiasm for it suggests…
My experiences with exercise and depression are sort of the reverse of Paul's — when I became depressed, I had already been in the habit of exercising every day for many years, and for a couple years had ramped up my activity level even more, since I was in college and could work out *whenever I wanted*, rather than having to wait for gym classes or school-sponsored activities. I enjoyed exercise, which is why I did so much of it. (I also enjoyed the of exercise, but I don't think I could've kept up such a strenuous regimen if I didn't also enjoy the activity itself). But I still ended up with severe depression, which after a while would keep me out of the gym for weeks at a time. So, for me, there's kind of a bitter edge to all the hype around exercise as preventative and cure-all for depression: it functioned as neither for me, even though I'd been a serious exerciser before my depression and continued to be one for at least a year and a half after it, and saw no benefit. (I still liked to exercise, but it didn't make me feel better overall, and sometimes I just felt so overwhelmed that I couldn't even move, let alone run or lift weights like the maniac I used to be. Some days maybe I'd *try* to get into the gym, but find I'd just sit down on a bench and cry rather than get any lifting done. So that sucked).
American Psychological Association: "Depression and How Psychotherapy and Other Treatments Can Help People Recover," "Mind/Body Health: Stress."
Cleveland Clinic: "What is Seasonal Depression?"
Coppen, A. , January 2005.
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: "Food and Mood."
Harvard Health Publications: "Depression and pain," "Exercise and Depression."
Lucas, M. , 2011.
National Mental Health Association: "Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Depression."
National Mental Health Information Center: "Alternative Approaches to Mental Health Care."
National Sleep Foundation: "Depression and Sleep."
Wurtman, R. , November 1995.