Boston University Finds Exercise As A Possible Treatment For Mental Issues

Normally, people go to a personal trainer in order to get some help handling their physical health, but that might soon change, if a recent revelation from the Boston University is any indication.

According to Professor Michael Otto, Psychology and Brain Science, his team has been comparing exercise to the more traditional treatments for depression and anxiety, and found that they’retied in terms of effectiveness, with exercise lacking the negative side effects that medication tends to have.

Some antidepressants have been known to cause blurred vision, insomnia, decreased sex drive, and weight gain. Exercise, meanwhile, leads to increased cognitive function, reduced blood pressure, controlled body weight and blood sugar, as well as improved sleep, according to Professor Otto, one of the co-authors of the book ‘Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being’.

Annie Way, a primary care physician operating under the University of Virginia Health System, says that exercise isn’t something that every primary care doctor prescribes, but it should be. Way is known for incorporating integrative medicine, and says that exercise is an important component of dealing with depression.

Research has not really pointed out a definitive exercise of choice for dealing with anxiety issues, but most studies point towards moderate aerobic exercise, like walking fast, with the most benefits seen from 30- to 40-minute sessions conducted about four times weekly. Some data suggests that more vigorous workouts work better for people suffering from anxiety, however.

According to Psychology Professor at the University of Texas at Austin and Spokesperson for the Anxiety and  Depression Association of America, Jasper Smits, it’s because high-intensity exercise creates responses in the body not unlike the symptoms of anxiety, meaning the body can associate the symptoms with something more positive.

According to the doctors and professors, simply getting started with something small is the best way to get introduced to exercise. Setting realistic goals, they say, is key, starting small before escalating to more intensive routines.  Otto advises finding whatever motivates someone, as well as finding a community to integrate can be good for the well-being, with the latter a good way to counteract the tendency of people with depression and mood disorders to isolate themselves. A personal trainer can also work, Otto says, for acting as an exercise interventionist until the habit is fully formed.

Otto says that, while it might seem difficult, the good thing is that exercise for mood tends to show results almost immediately.