A dissertation from Sweden's Sahlgrenska Academy has revealed that exercise has a positive effect on depression. The researcher evaluated exercise as an add-on therapy to antidepressant medication.
The study divided 62 individuals with diagnosed clinical depression into three groups, in which two participated in two different types of exercise with a physiotherapist twice a week for 10 weeks while the third, the control group, did not participate in systematic exercise.
"In our follow-up interviews for the study, participants spoke about how they felt alive again and became more active. One woman expressed that the workout 'kickstarts my body and helps me get the strength to crawl out of this cocoon that I am in'," said PhD student Louise Danielsson.
People who participated in exercise aimed at increasing their physical fitness clearly improved their mental health compared with the control group.
Even participants who were taught about their basal body awareness by the physiotherapist reduced their depressive symptoms, although not as significantly.
The studies show that the participants who exercised felt that they had the strength to do more at home and engage with more social contacts.
The dissertation's results supports previous research on the antidepressant effects of exercise.
"Our results show that exercise can be used within primary care with the rehabilitation of people with depression," Danielsson said.