Workouts at the gym or a daily jog can help patients suffering from major depression, say experts.
Exercising can be just as effective as standard antidepressant medications in reducing symptoms in patients with major depression, according to HealthDay News.
"Duration of exercise didn't seem to matter - what seemed to matter most was whether people were exercising or not," said James Blumenthal, a professor of medical psychology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
Blumenthal is the author of a much-publicised study, released five years ago, that found that just 10 months of regular, moderate exercise outperformed a leading antidepressant (Zoloft) in easing symptoms in young adults diagnosed with moderate to severe depression.
Regular exercise, he said, brings a more lasting psychological boost. "People who exercise might also have better self-esteem; it may help them feel better about themselves, having that great sense of accomplishment," he said.
Another study by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas released earlier this year found that 30-minute aerobic workouts done three to five times a week cut depressive symptoms by 50 percent in young adults.
Robert E. Thayer, a professor of psychology at California State University, Long Beach, said while workouts probably affect key brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine, physical activity may also trigger positive changes in other areas, too.
"Depression is a condition characterised by low energy and moderate tension, something I call 'tense tiredness,'" he said. "But exercise has a clear 'mood effect' that seems to ease that anxious but lethargic state."
According to Thayer, moderate exercise - a brisk 10-minute walk, for example - results in a boosting of energy, although it may not be quite enough to relieve stress.