Exercise Enhances Therapy-Benefits In Depression Treatment, Study Finds

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Mental Health News

Researchers at Iowa State University confirmed the long-term benefits of exercise for depression treatment. The two-part study is now published in the journals, Psychology of Sport and Exercise and Frontiers in Psychiatry, respectively.

The Study

The researchers asked 30 adults with chronic depression to participate in short bouts of moderate-intensity exercises. The participants were asked to fill out electronic surveys at regular intervals during the study. Each survey included several cognitive tests and standard questionnaires and scales to measure the symptoms of depression, including—depressed mood state, anhedonia, and cognitive functioning.

The researchers further compared the findings with a therapy-related pilot study. Herein, the participants were asked to exercise and then sit for an hour of virtual, cognitive behavior therapy for eight weeks.

The Results

The findings confirmed that exercise helps in depression recovery. It revealed that the depressed moods of participants who exercised significantly improved than those who didn’t exercise. With reduced anhedonia and enhanced cognitive functions, the improved state of mind lasted, post-workout, for 30–75 minutes.

It was also seen that this exercise-induced improved mindset aided the performance of psychologically or cognitively demanding tasks. These include taking an exam or going to therapy. For instance, the participants who exercised and sat for therapy developed a quicker, stronger connection with their therapists. This led the research team to infer that exercise could ‘fertilize’ the brain for better task performance and amplify the benefits of therapy for adults to fight depression.

Towards Interventions

The researchers are enthusiastic that this study can help develop exercise-based interventions that aid therapy in depression treatment. In the words of one of the lead researchers, Jacob Meyer, it was certain that they could “synergize the short-term benefits [of] exercise [with] the clear long-term benefits [of] therapy to deliver the most effective overall intervention.”

To Know More You May Refer To

Meyer, Jacob & Murray, Thomas & Brower, Cassandra & Cruz-Maldonado, Gabriel & Perez, Maria & Ellingson, Laura & Wade, Nathaniel. (2022). Magnitude, timing and duration of mood state and cognitive effects of acute moderate exercise in major depressive disorder. Psychology of Sport and Exercise. 61. 102172. 10.1016/j.psychsport.2022.102172.

Meyer, J. D., Perkins, S. L., Brower, C. S., Lansing, J., Slocum, J. A., Thomas, E. B., Murray, T. A., Lee, D. C., & Wade, N. G. (n.d.). Feasibility of an exercise and CBT intervention for treatment of depression: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Frontiers. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2022.799600/abstract

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