I have long maintained that the benefits of exercise extend far beyond any physical goal or achievement. As I’ve said before, I’m never more than one workout away from a better mood. It doesn’t matter how bad of a day I’ve had, a brisk workout always gets me back on track. Within minutes I notice myself feeling better (physically and mentally).
To no surprise, I’m not alone in recognizing the mental benefits of exercise. Anyone who has spent any time training could tell you the same thing. The connection between the body and mind is impossible to deny. New research even suggests that exercise can be an effective treatment for depression (see below).
Exercise and Depression
For starters, it is worth noting that I’m not a doctor and I’m not depressed. With that said, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that depression is a serious problem in the world today. I’d venture to guess that we all know someone who has been clinically diagnosed with depression. Therefore, it’s great to see exercise receiving attention as a possible treatment.
As quoted within the abstract above:
“Our data strongly support the claim that exercise is an evidence-based treatment for depression.”
When examining new research, I always strive to review the material with an open mind. Personal opinion isn’t relevant to evidence-based research so it’s best to leave it out of the equation. In other words, rather than jumping to conclusions, I let the evidence speak for itself. After all, the evidence is the only conclusion that matters.
Nevertheless, the human side of me will occasionally read through a study in hopes of proving what I’ve always thought to be true. That was the case as I read through the full text regarding the effects of exercise on depression. The conclusion is exactly what I expected it to be.
Thinking back on my 20+ years of training, exercise has helped me through some difficult times. I’ve always viewed brisk exercise as my own form of therapy. It’s inevitable that every session ends with me becoming a better version of myself. Even if it is just a slight change in mood, the difference is undeniable. I always walk out feeling better than I did when I started.
While my own mood swings pale in comparison to clinical depression, I’m happy to see that science supports what many of us have always thought to be true. Exercise undoubtedly provides numerous physical and mental benefits. And fortunately, you don’t need to suffer from depression to experience these benefits.
Speaking for myself, I often joke that the world is a better place when I’m training. My mood improves, I think clearer thoughts, and I’m a better person to be around. Perhaps the world is really a better place when everyone is exercising however. Research seems to be pointing in that direction.
And while that might sound crazy to someone who never trained, I’m sure it makes perfect sense to those who have been around the block.
“The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength.” – Henry Rollins