Exercises and meditation help fight depression: Study

The next time you feel low and want to skip your exercises, think again as it may worsen your mood instead of doing any good. A new study has revealed that aerobic exercises and meditation can actually help in fighting depression.

According to the study conducted at Rutgers University’s School of Arts and Sciences, a combination of meditation and aerobic exercises can show positive results even if it is followed just twice a week for two months.

“We are excited by the findings because we saw such a meaningful improvement in both clinically depressed and non-depressed students,” said lead author Brandon Alderman of the Rutgers University.

The study, published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, states that the symptoms of depression came down by 40 percent in the participants of the study. Previous studies have shown how exercise and meditation help in improving depression, but this is the first study to show how the combination of the two activities can be an effective treatment of depression.

“But this study suggests that when done together, there is a striking improvement in depressive symptoms along with increases in synchronized brain activity,” said Tracey Shors, professor in the department of psychology.

Previous studies

Depression is a common mental disorder, and according to the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer from depression, which is the leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease. An estimated 19 million Americans suffer from depression, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Some previous studies have said that exercises lead to the release of endorphins, which make people feel more positive, thus keeping depression at bay. Another study in 2014 at the Karolinska Institute, Sweden said that during exercise, muscles release an enzyme which helps in flushing out substances associated with depression.

Researchers said that protein PGC-1α1 increases in muscle during exercise which produces an enzyme called KAT which changes the harmful kynurenine molecule into harmless kynurenic acid which can be easily flushed out of the body.

According to a study published in The Lancet, meditation yields the same results as antidepressants when treating depression, says a report on dailymail.co.uk.

Many people do not wish to continue the medication for a long time because of its side effects and at such times meditation and exercise can go a long way in warding off depression. Experts say that exercise can protect the brain from depression and improves the cognitive ability of a person.

A study conducted at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre in North Carolina in 2015 says that even a few minutes of meditation every day can act as a more effective pain relief compared to a powerful medication. The findings suggested that meditation teaches people how to relax and deal with pain and that the participants of the study reported a 27 percent decrease in pain intensity and 44 percent less emotional pain.

Mental health is a grave issue today. The State of Mental Health in America 2016 report by Mental Health America (MHA) reveals that an estimated 42.5 million Americans experienced some form of mental health issue in 2015.

The first step to treatment of depression, or any other mental disorder is accepting the problem. If you or your loved one is battling a depression, call the Depression Treatment Helpline at 866-619-7729 to seek guidance. Our representatives available round-the-clock can guide you to the best treatment facility in your neighborhood.