Exercist Therapy: A Natural Anti-Depressant

By Abby Larson

Have you ever felt sad or stressed, laced up your running shoes and went on a run to find yourself feeling happier once you got back?  Anti-depressants might not be the best treatment for depression and anxiety, conditions that many Americans take drugs for.  Psychology Professors Smits and Otto from Southern Methodist and Boston Universities have shown that Exercise Therapy is a successful treatment of many mental health problems.
Presenting their findings at the Anxiety Disorder Association of America’s annual conference in March to researchers and mental health care providers, Smits and Otto have found that people who exercise show fewer signs of depression and stress.  Much like an anti-depressant, exercise triggers the release of neurotransmitters in the brain that help relieve stress and depression and allow patients to perform daily tasks more efficiently.  Additionally, as one exercises more, resting heart rate lowers, causing patients to feel less anxiety.
Smits believes that patients should exercise at least 150 minutes a week at a moderate-intensity or 75 minutes at high-intensity.  Exercise therapy is about the immediate benefits of exercise on mood, not just the long-term health benefits.
As the list of learned health benefits of exercise grows, psychiatrists should be encouraged to prescribe schedules and goals to exercise instead of anti-depressants for a less costly and more beneficial therapy for mood disorders.  So, next time you’re stressed about work or academics or have a loss of confidence, get outside and exercise.  It’s what the doctor ordered.

For more information, see links at SMU research

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Abby Larson

Abby Larson is a senior biology major at Dickinson College with a focus in pre-medical studies. She is a member of the Dickinson Women's Lacrosse team and is highly involved in other activities on campus, including Delta Nu and the Student Athlete Advisory Committee. Her involvement on the lacrosse team along with her major in biology has led her to be interested in exercise science, and she may pursue her interests after graduation through a medical or graduate degree.

4 thoughts on “Exercist Therapy: A Natural Anti-Depressant”

  1. I as an exercise addict agrees with “Smits believes that patients should exercise at least 150 minutes a week at a moderate-intensity or 75 minutes at high-intensity. Exercise therapy is about the immediate benefits of exercise on mood, not just the long-term health benefits.” l even read from awake that exercise release mood altering hormones. if you finish exercise you always notice a sense of well being.
    Also “So, next time you’re stressed about work or academics or have a loss of confidence, get outside and exercise.” Running is a simple exercise you can do outdoor or with trend mill in your living room. you only need good running shoes to do it and after that you will again notice how not only your body but your mind will respond to nature and medication healing if necessary

  2. fantastic post, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector don’t notice this. You should continue your writing. I’m confident, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

  3. hello,
    what a wonderful post. This is actually one of several superior posts associated with things that I’ve please read on that topic recently. Fantastic perform. great writing skills. keep it up for the great work.
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