Depression and exercise -what is the connection? Depression is a very common problem and around one in four women and one in ten men will require treatment for it at some stage in their lives.
Antidepressants are commonly prescribed and there is very good evidence for their benefit. Cognitive behaviour therapy is also very valuable and there are other treatments available and the treatment decision is usually made by the family doctor in the first instance.
Exercise however is extremely valuable and is not always considered. I must confess a love for walking in wild and way out places and last week was next to Loch Callater in the Cairngorms in glorious sunshine. Scotland is at its best when the snow has melted and before the midges come out in their millions. I walked up just a couple of Munros and stayed in a mountain hut with water from a local stream, surrounded by thousands of red grouse, lots of mountain hares with an occasional view of a herd of red deer. In this beautiful environment my spirits which had been a little low at first through
feeling slightly lonely soared in this environment. Here are two pictures of my mountain hut and also of beautiful Loch Callater.
BENEFITS OF EXERCISE IN DEPRESSION
Exercise causes the release of endorphins and enkephalins in the brain which probably help us to feel better. It can help to distract us from our problems. Having exercise goals can give a sense of achievement and when done in groups the social aspect can be therapeutic. The article Up and Running by the Mental Health Foundation looks more fully at its benefits and also suggests that doctors should prescribe supervised exercise for some patients.
In my book, Mindful of the Light-practical help and spiritual hope for mental health I look more fully at depression and also discuss depression and exercise.