Exercise outperforms medication for depression and anxiety

A recent report published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has highlighted the significant role of exercise in managing mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. The study reviewed more than 1,000 research trials and concluded that engaging in various physical activities for at least 150 minutes per week can significantly alleviate mental health disorders.

Millions of people worldwide are currently dealing with mental health challenges, including depression, anxiety, and other disorders.

Recent estimates suggest that nearly half of Australians will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lives. Although traditional treatments such as therapy and medication can be useful, our latest research emphasizes the significance of exercise in managing these conditions.

Exercise has been shown to be a potent and efficient tool for managing mental health problems, proving to be 1.5 times more effective than medication or therapy. Despite its proven benefits, exercise is frequently overlooked in favor of conventional treatments.

The research found that exercise also offers additional benefits such as lower costs, fewer side effects, and improved physical health. Despite this, exercise is often considered an “alternative” treatment in clinical settings.

The study says “We reviewed 97 review papers, which involved 1,039 trials and 128,119 participants. We found doing 150 minutes each week of various types of physical activity (such as brisk walking, lifting weights, and yoga) significantly reduces depression, anxiety, and psychological distress, compared to usual care (such as medications).

The largest improvements (as self-reported by the participants) were seen in people with depression, HIV, kidney disease, in pregnant and postpartum women, and in healthy individuals, though clear benefits were seen for all populations.

We found the higher the intensity of exercise, the more beneficial it is. For example, walking at a brisk pace, instead of walking at the usual pace. And exercising for six to 12 weeks has the greatest benefits, rather than shorter periods. Longer-term exercise is important for maintaining mental health improvements.”

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