Exercise May Not Be the Answer to Depression, Study Suggests

Doctors often prescribe physical activity to ease depression symptoms, but a new British study suggests that exercise may not be the remedy for the blues many have hoped for.

Adding physical activity to adults’ usual depression care did not improve their depression symptoms compared to those who received only standard care, researchers from the University of Bristol and their colleagues find. The findings throw a splash of cold water on claims about exercise’s holistic benefits for depression treatment, PsychCentral reported June 18.

Still, patients who received the physical activity intervention were more likely to stay physically active after the study concluded, says lead author Melanie Chalder. “It is important to note that increased physical activity is beneficial for people with other medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease and, of course, these conditions can affect people with depression,” she says.

Exercise may work as preventive care to stop depression from developing in the first place. Regular workouts can ease your day-to-day stress and make you more resilient to stressors as they come, research shows.

The study appears online in the British Medical Journal.

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