Depression, anxiety, and distress are common mental health disorders that can significantly impact a person's quality of life. While there are various forms of treatments available, physical activity interventions have been scientifically validated as an effective tool to manage and alleviate symptoms of these disorders... and numerous studies over the years have shown that regular exercise can have positive effects on mental wellbeing. And a newly released systematic review of all of the studies into this area was undertaken by the British Journal of Sports Medicine - https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2023/02/16/bjsports-2022-106195
The review found that physical activity is highly beneficial for improving symptoms of depression, anxiety and distress across a wide range of adult populations, including the general population, people with diagnosed mental health disorders and people with chronic disease. But I think the most amazing statement from this systematic review was;
"Physical activity should be a mainstay approach in the management of depression, anxiety and psychological distress."
We don't fully understand all of the pathways and the intricacies of HOW it fully works its magic, but basically, exercise can help to boost mood, reduce stress, and improve cognitive function. These benefits are achieved through the release of endorphins, which are natural chemicals produced by the body that promote a sense of wellbeing and positivity.
This systematic review backs up studies like the study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry that showed that exercise was just as effective as medication in managing symptoms of depression. This particular study found that participants who engaged in regular exercise experienced a significant reduction in depression symptoms compared to those who received medication alone. Whilst another study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that exercise was an effective tool for managing symptoms of anxiety. The study found that participants who engaged in regular exercise experienced significant reductions in anxiety symptoms compared to those who did not exercise. And another study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology found that physical activity interventions were effective in reducing stress and increasing overall well-being in working adults.
While physical activity interventions have shown to be effective in managing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and distress, it's important to note that exercise should not be used as a substitute for traditional forms of treatment, such as therapy or medication. Rather, exercise should be viewed as a complementary tool that can be used in conjunction with other forms of treatment to manage symptoms of mental health disorders.
Right...I'm off for a WOD :-)