This is not the first time that a study has encouraged exercise to fight depression. However, through a new study, researchers have succeeded in establishing a direct correlation between the practice of moderate or intense physical exercise and the improvement of symptoms linked to depression.
This studyrecently published in the medical journal JAMA Network Openfollowed more than 4,000 Irish adults over the age of 50 over a ten-year period to assess the effect of exercise on the symptoms of depression. The results revealed that when people with conditions linked to depression (such as diabetes, heart disease and chronic pain) exercised, the activity reduced their depressive symptoms.
Researchers determined that people who practiced at least 20 minutes ofexercise per day, five days a week, had a rate of symptoms depressive lower 16% compared to the 43% risk faced by those who did not exercise. However, participants with depression but no associated chronic disease had to exercise for two hours a day to observe a decrease in symptoms.
Several mechanisms may explain the positive effects of exercise on depression. When a sports activity is performed, the body releases endorphins, brain chemicals that act as natural pain relievers and provide a feeling of well-being. Regular exercise can also increase the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which plays an important role in regulating mood.
“The higher the dose of physical activity, the greater the mental health benefits”
THE attendees were from the Irish Longitudinal Study of Aging and were assessed every two years. The researchers subjected them to questionnaires on their physical activity and level of exercise before assessing their depressive symptoms. Those who presented with a severe form and those who had suffered from an intense depressive episode during the last 12 months, were classified like having a depression major.
In interview given to CNN television, the study’s lead author, Eamon Lairda researcher at the Center for Physical Activity for Health Research at the University of Limerick in Ireland gave examples of the symptoms from the questionnaire: I had trouble keeping my mind on what I was doing; My sleep was restless; I felt like I couldn’t get rid of the blues even with the help of my family and friends; etc “. He clarified that: “What is unique (about this study) is that it is the first and largest (long) longitudinal survey to determine what is the dose minimum ofexercise necessary to observe a reduction in the symptoms of depression “. However, the researcher points out that: “We are not advocating for reduced activity levels in any population, but these results suggest that even lower than recommended doses may well protect mental health over time in older adults. “. He adds : “These doses are more achievable for people who find it difficult to undertake a physical activity for different reasons”. Laird still wanted to point out that: “The higher the dose of physical activity, the greater the mental health benefits “.
Worrying findings on the deterioration of mental health
The authors of this study also found that the overall rate of depression increased from 8% to 10% during the 10 years the study took place. They also added that during the same period, the use of antidepressants increased from about 6% to 10% and exercise rates decreased by about 10% overall.
“Physical activity should be a fundamental approach in the management of depression, anxiety and psychological distress”
In February, another study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that regular exercise may be more effective than medication for treating mental illnesses, including depression. According to this study, sports people would be 1.5 times more likely to see a improvement depression or anxiety compared to people treated with therapy or medication. The study’s lead researcher, Dr. Ben Singh, said in a press release that: Physical activity is known to help improve there Mental Health. Yet, despite the evidence, it has not been widely adopted as a first-choice treatment “. The researcher thus suggests in conclusion that “thephysical activity should be a fundamental approach in the management of depression, anxiety and psychological distress“.
– Physical activity dose and depression in a cohort of older adults in the Irish Longitudinal Study of Aging.jamanetwork.com