Exercise not only benefits in keeping a person fit but also reduces symptoms of patients with major depressive disorder, according to a new psychological research.
Jim Blumenthal of Duke University went on to research on this beneficial aspect of exercising after noticing that people felt better when they exercised and thus decided to examine if exercise was able to reduce depressive symptoms in patients.
So, he observed non-depressed patients and discovered that regular exercise had a positive effect on depressive symptoms in these patients.
"But the question was 'Really, what does that really mean. If someone's not depressed to begin with and they have reduced symptoms, so what," said Blumenthal.
Thus he focused his research on patients with major depressive disorder and assigned the patients to one of three treatment groups: medication, exercise, or a combination of both.
After four months, the patients who were recruited to just exercise showed equal improvement as the other two groups.
It was found that over 60pct of the exercising patients no longer classified as clinically depressed as compared to 69pct of the patients who were given only medication and 65.5pct of those assigned to both.
Also Blumenthal found that patients who exercised had half the risk of being depressed six months after the experiment as those who didn't.
Blumenthal said that he would not advise people with major depression to give up their medicine in favor of exercise, but he still believed that exercising might prove to be an alternative treatment for depression.
"I still remain very optimistic about exercise being an alternative to treatment for depression," he said.