Friday, April 20, 2007

Exercise To Beat the Blues

When I’m depressed, exercise is one of the last things I feel like doing. Years ago I asked my psychiatrist (whom I saw for four years) whether exercise would help alleviate depression. He said, “There is no evidence to support that it does.”

Of course, he has since been proven wrong. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center studied 156 depressed patients 50 and older and found that after 16 weeks, those who exercised showed significant improvement compared to those who either took medication alone or those who combined medication and exercise.

In a six-month follow-up study, Duke psychologists found that depression returned in only 8 percent of the patients in the exercise group, versus 38 percent for the drug-only group and 31 percent for the drug and exercise combined group.

And Dr. Robert N. Butler, President of the International Longevity Center at Mount Sinai Medical School in New York City, said, “If exercise could be put in a pill, it would be the number one anti-aging medicine and the number one anti-depression medicine.”

Still, for those of us who suffer from depression, motivating ourselves to exercise when we can barely get out of bed, isn’t easy. But as a long-term strategy, it may work better than antidepressants.

Inquiring minds would like to know. How do you exercise? Are you able to continue exercising even when you're depressed? Do you exercise with a buddy or by yourself? What tips can you give to others?


Anonymous said...

It's really difficult for me. I sure would like to know what other people do. I think if I had someone to exercise with, it might make all the difference. Where do I find someone?


Syd said...

I too find this one especially hard. I wish I had back all the money I wasted on health club fees and exercise DVDs. Two months ago, I gave myself the best birthday present ever - salsa dancing lessons. Not only is it wonderful exercise (that doesn't feel like *work*), but it's also rebuilding my self-confidence and helping me meet lots of great new people. I take classes 3 times per week for 90 minutes each and wish the classes were longer. Salsa dancing has become the lone bright spot in some otherwise dark days.

marja said...

I like walking with a friend who also has trouble with depression. We're helping each other out and can talk about our feelings, knowing the other will understand.

I also belong to Curves. Since I've been going for a long time I've come to know the workers and a lot of other members. It's a social way to exercise, the machines in a circle and everyone facing in. The music is great and the workout takes only 30 minutes.

Though I've been depressed for the past 2 months or so, I haven't had a lot of truly black days. I think the depression would have been more severe if I wasn't exercising.