25 Minutes of Exercise Can Beat Depression

By Richard Alleyne / Source: The Telegraph

Just 25 minutes of vigorous daily exercise can help beat depression, claim doctors.

Researchers found that a workout reduces stress and anger and boosts the sense of physical wellbeing.

They claim physical exercise should be more widely prescribed as a treatment to tackle depressive or anxiety disorders.

Professor Jasper Smits, a psychologist, at the southern Methodist University in Dallas said that physical therapy could be prescribed instead of or as a supplement to medication.

“Exercise can fill the gap for people who can’t receive traditional therapies because of cost or lack of access, or who don’t want to because of the perceived social stigma associated with these treatments,” he said.

“Exercise also can supplement traditional treatments, helping patients become more focused and engaged.

“Individuals who exercise report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, and lower levels of stress and anger.

“Exercise appears to affect, like an antidepressant, particular neurotransmitter systems in the brain, and it helps patients with depression re-establish positive behaviours.”

The team from the university’s Anxiety Research and Treatment Programme analysed past studies and found traditional treatments of cognitive behavioural therapy and drug treatments do not reach everyone who needs them.

However exercise could help relieve symptoms such as “fears of fear and related bodily sensations such as a racing heart and rapid breathing”.

“The more therapists who are trained in exercise therapy, the better off patients will be,” Prof Smits said.

Patients were subjected to either 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity.

He said: “Rather than emphasise the long-term health benefits of an exercise program – which can be difficult to sustain – we urge providers to focus with their patients on the immediate benefits.

“After just 25 minutes, your mood improves, you are less stressed, you have more energy – and you’ll be motivated to exercise again tomorrow. A bad mood is no longer a barrier to exercise – it is the very reason to exercise.”

As well as an exercise regime, patients also benefit from a daily schedule and targets which may also help in combating the mental illness.

The findings were presented at the annual conference of the Anxiety Disorder Association of America in Baltimore.

Accountability forces you to succeed

Another reason for failing is lack of accountability. Did you know that we get up to 8 times more done when we are accountable? We seem to rise up to the occasion and get that little extra out of ourselves. The easiest way to demonstrate that is with physical exercise. If we do them alone, we usually find plenty of reasons (excuses) to do less than we had planned to but when there is someone else who holds us accountable, who supports and encourages us, we will run that extra mile even if when we think we can’t take another step.

Isn’t it ironical that that last mile is what gets you the best results? As in the gym where the last reps help you grow the most in terms of muscle growth and strength, it is the same with achieving your goals. So when you have a big goal, a dream, get yourself someone who will hold you accountable. Make sure it is someone who also has big goals, someone that is supportive of you and your ideas and has some of their own.

But accountability also means being “strict” with each other about keeping the commitments. With strict I mean with great integrity. You’ll have to agree on the rewards and punishments which you give yourself depending whether you do your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. It goes without saying that if you cheat, you will only cheat yourself. It makes no real difference to anybody else.

Be aware not to take on too much. When I first used an accountability partner, I gave her a list an arm long just with my daily and weekly tasks. To complete them on a regular basis was only wishful thinking and far from reality which got both of us pretty frustrated. Therefore set daily and weekly goals that are achievable and a stretch. It is important to find a good balance – not too easy and not too overwhelming.  Now I have 5 daily to do things, 2 that I do 5 times a week and 5 that I do weekly. That is more than enough and on some days a great challenge in itself.

When you are really serious with your accountability than make both – you and your accountability partner – responsible for achieving each others goals which means when you fail, the other person also has to accept the rewards and punishment of their partner i.e. do 50 push ups when the partner has failed to complete their tasks of the day.  For me that works great and gets me some physical exercise 🙂