Lifestyle Medicine: Exercise Offers Powerful Help for Depression

Does exercise, such as yoga, swimming, or jogging really offer help for individuals fighting depression? Most people have heard or read that exercise provides positive benefits for individuals seeking to combat depression.

However, you may be wondering if this is opinion or a fact supported with documented research.

In fact, the evidence for the benefits of exercise including yoga for depression is pretty substantial. According to the 2008 Summary of the Physical Activity Guidelines by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, numerous studies have demonstrated that individuals participating in regular exercise routines begin to feel better and their symptoms of depression subside.

It does matter which type of exercise you engage in, however. Moderate exercise routines that are more challenging have greater positive impact than light physical activity.

In other words, aerobic activities and those involving resistance or strength building, such as a moderately challenging yoga practice, would provide the greatest benefit help for depression.

Exercise is well known for enhancing physical and emotional wellness across the board, when introduced on a regular basis.  Since exercise does not impact the benefits provided by prescription medications for depression, many researchers are interested in determining how the two treatment options could partner together to produce even better overall results for patients.

Yoga for Depression

The International Journal of Yoga Therapy is preparing to publish research findings in 2009 resulting from a study evaluating mood changes prior to and following yoga therapy.

The moods of 54 study participants, prior to and following 2 weeks of yoga therapy, were compared against one another. 64% of the study’s participants experienced a reduction in mood disturbance, while 53% of participants experienced a reduction in their depression symptoms.

The results of this study overall suggest that yoga for depression is a potentially beneficial treatment, even a prevention option for individuals suffering with symptoms.

Yogic breathing exercises and targeted movements used in yoga are given credit for the physical benefits, mood benefits and overall positive experience for those suffering from depression symptoms.

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