Exercise helps reduce symptoms of depression, UT Southwestern researchers find

January 25, 2005

DALLAS - Jan. 25, 2005 - Jumping on that treadmill or bike is not only good for one's health, but also can help significantly reduce depression, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

The first study to look at exercise alone in treating mild to moderate depression in adults aged 20 to 45 showed that depressive symptoms were reduced almost 50 percent in individuals who participated in 30-minute aerobic exercise sessions three to five times a week.

The results, published in the January issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, are comparable to results from studies in which patients with mild to moderate depression were treated with antidepressants or cognitive therapy, said Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, professor of psychiatry and director of UT Southwestern's mood disorders research program.

"The effect you find using aerobic exercise alone in treating clinical depression is similar to what you find with antidepressant medications," said Dr. Trivedi, a study author and holder of the Lydia Bryant Test Professorship in Psychiatric Research. "The key is the intensity of the exercise and continuing it for 30 to 35 minutes per day. It's not for the faint of heart."

The study, conducted between July 1998 and October 2001, included 80 people randomly placed into five groups. Two groups participated in moderately intense aerobics consistent with public health recommendations; one of those groups exercised three days a week and the other five days. Another two groups participated in lower-intensity aerobics for three days and five days per week, and a fifth group did stretching flexibility exercises 15 to 20 minutes three days per week. Exercise programs included supervised instruction at the Cooper Institute in Dallas.

Individuals who participated in moderately intense aerobics, such as exercising on a treadmill or stationary bicycle - whether it was for three or five days per week - experienced a decline in depressive symptoms by an average of 47 percent after 12 weeks. Those in the low-intensity exercise groups showed a 30 percent reduction in symptoms, while those in the last group averaged a 29 percent decline.

"Numerous effective treatments for depression are available, yet many people don't seek treatment because of the negative social stigma still associated with the disease," Dr. Trivedi said. "Exercise may offer a viable treatment alternative, particularly as it can be recommended for most individuals."

Experts estimate that only 23 percent of individuals with clinical depression seek treatment for the mental illness and only 10 percent receive adequate treatment. Almost 19 million Americans are thought to suffer from depressive disorders.

Other researchers participating in the study were from the Cooper Institute and from Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary. The study was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and by Technogym.
-end-
UT Southwestern researchers currently are enrolling participants in a follow-up study combining aerobic exercise and antidepressant medications. Interested individuals should call 214-648-0153 for information.

This news release is available on our World Wide Web home page at http://www8.utsouthwestern.edu/utsw/cda/dept37389/files/203820.html

To automatically receive news releases from UT Southwestern via e-mail, subscribe at www.utsouthwestern.edu/receivenews

UT Southwestern Medical Center

Related Depression Articles from Brightsurf:

Children with social anxiety, maternal history of depression more likely to develop depression
Although researchers have known for decades that depression runs in families, new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York, suggests that children suffering from social anxiety may be at particular risk for depression in the future.

Depression and use of marijuana among US adults
This study examined the association of depression with cannabis use among US adults and the trends for this association from 2005 to 2016.

Maternal depression increases odds of depression in offspring, study shows
Depression in mothers during and after pregnancy increased the odds of depression in offspring during adolescence and adulthood by 70%.

Targeting depression: Researchers ID symptom-specific targets for treatment of depression
For the first time, physician-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified two clusters of depressive symptoms that responded to two distinct neuroanatomical treatment targets in patients who underwent transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) for treatment of depression.

A biological mechanism for depression
Researchers report that in depressed individuals there are increased amounts of an unmodified structural protein, called tubulin, in lipid rafts compared with non-depressed individuals.

Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.

Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.

CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Read More: Depression News and Depression Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.