Physical activity more effective than medication for mental health: Study

2023-02-25 22:14:35
Physical activity more effective than medication for mental health: Study

Researchers in Australia have discovered regular exercise may be more effective than medication for the treatment of mental illness, such as depression and anxiety.

The study was carried out by the University of South Australia and published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The study used 97 reviews, 1,039 and 128,119 participants, marking it as one of the most extensive pieces of research to date. Based on their findings, they concluded that exercise improved symptoms of depression and anxiety.

“Physical activity is known to help improve mental health. Yet despite the evidence, it has not been widely adopted as a first-choice treatment,” lead researcher Dr. Ben Singh said in a statement.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with some sort of mental health problem or disorder in their lifetime, and 1 in 5 will experience it in a given year.

Professor Carol Maher, one of the study’s researchers, claimed that the research is the first of its kind to evaluate how any kind of physical activity could impact psychological disorders and distress in adults, hoping it can serve as a guideline for clinicians.

“Examining these studies as a whole is an effective way to for clinicians to easily understand the body of evidence that supports physical activity in managing mental health disorders,” she said. “We hope this review will underscore the need for physical activity, including structured exercise interventions, as a mainstay approach for managing depression and anxiety.”

Study authors found that intervals of exercise 12 weeks or less were most effective for improving symptoms related to mental illness, suggesting that even small changes for a short period of time could have beneficial effects.

While higher-intensity exercises had “greater improvements for depression and anxiety,” all kinds of physical activity could “significantly reduce symptoms.”

The groups who most benefited from increased physical activity were patients with depression, women who were pregnant or postpartum, people with kidney disease, and even people who were totally healthy.


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