Recent Research: Exercise for Mood, with Immediate Results

Fri, 2 Dec. 2011 - 11:57 p.m. MT
Credit: ARA Staff - American Running Association

Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on a treadmill significantly improved mood in patients with major depressive disorder in a study published in December in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. The single bout of brisk walking at 60 to 70% of mhr in the randomized study not only reduced the self-reported measures of distress, depression, confusion, fatigue, tension, and anger—as 30 minutes of quiet rest also did—but significantly increased positive well-being and vigor in the 15 men and 25 women as well. Mood state profiles were taken five minutes before, and five, 30, and 60 minutes after either quietly sitting for 30 minutes or 30 minutes of brisk treadmill walking.

 

Chronic exercise is the latest promising treatment for depression. The researchers write that substantial improvements in symptoms are often seen in only a few weeks. This small study of just one exercise session, then, is even more promising. While larger randomized trials are needed, it may nevertheless be possible for clinically depressed patients to manage their mood in the short term using acute moderate exercise. By comparison, the researchers observe, the time course of “pharmacologic treatments” requires at least two to four weeks and can exceed six to eight weeks before providing significant relief of depression. A cost-free, healthful, natural, easy, and immediate mood lifter is undoubtedly a major boon to anti-depression strategies.

 

(Med. Sci. Sports & Exerc., 2005, Vol. 37, No. 12, pp. 2032-2037)

(RUNNING & FITNEWS® January/February 2006 • Volume 24, Number 1)




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