Exercise Effective In Anxiety and Depression Management, Study Shows

In Education

A groundbreaking study from Vrije University in Amsterdam found that running could be as effective as medication (SSRI escitalopram) in treating depression. After 16 weeks, around 44% of individuals with anxiety and depression experienced improvement, whether they were running in a supervised group or taking antidepressants. The study highlights the potential of running as a treatment for depression.

Exercise improves mental health

Many participants preferred exercise, leading to better mental health and improvements in weight, blood pressure, waist circumference, and heart function. In contrast, those using antidepressants generally saw a decrease in fitness.

Nonetheless, experts stress that merely suggesting to patients the act of running falls short. A higher number of individuals who were runners discontinued their participation in the research, resulting in a 52% retention rate, in contrast to the 82% compliance rate observed among those receiving medication.

According Vrije Univeristy’s Professor Brenda Penninx they sought to evaluate his impact of exercise and antidepressants on overall well-being, beyond solely mental health considerations. Both approaches exhibited comparable effectiveness in alleviating depression. However, it is worth noting that antidepressants were associated with adverse effects on body weight, blood pressure and heart rate variability, while exercise therapy yielded improvements in general fitness and heart rate, among other aspects.

Maintaining consistency in exercises challenging for many

The researchers highlight the challenge of maintaining consistent exercise participation for patients, with more people sticking to medication. They stress the need for supervision and encouragement when promoting exercise as a treatment.

In the study involving 141 participants, a choice between SSRI antidepressants and group running for 16 weeks was offered with 45 participants picking medication, while 96 chose running. Those on medication followed their prescription consistently, maintaining their daily routines. On the other hand, the running group engaged in supervised 45-minute group sessions 2-3 times a week, aiming to combat sedentary behaviours linked to depression and anxiety through outdoor activity.

Antidepressants are usually safe and effective, benefiting most people but not all patients respond to or are willing to take antidepressants. Therefore, incorporating exercise therapy should be considered seriously as an alternative or possibly even superior treatment option for certain patients.

Mobile Sliding Menu