Research Paper on Effectiveness of Exercise as Antidepressant

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Depression, Physical Exercise, Therapy, Disorders

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2019/10/09


Previous observational and interventional studies have shown that regular physical exercise may be associated with reduced symptoms of depressions. The degree to which exercise training may reduce depression symptoms in elderly patient with extreme cases of depression disorders hasn’t been evaluated though. However, it has been found that patients who receive antidepressant would respond faster at the initial stages when compared to those who could take both antidepressants and training. Cases of less severe depression, respond more rapidly through exercise than those with more severe depression symptom. It has been noted that exercise would bring the same results as depressants if they were to be used to manage depression.


Can exercise be used as alternative to pharmacological medication and therapy in the treatment of depression disorders?


Depression is a common and major reason for morbidity and mortality across the globe. Even though effective pharmacological intervention is available, most depression cases remain inadequately managed, with women being almost twice as likely as their male counterpart’s to develop a disorder associated with depression. We know that lack of physical exercise increases the vulnerability to depression and that physical activity whether work related, exercise or recreation, significantly reduces the risk of developing a depressive disorder. This cuts across the board for people of all races and socioeconomic levels but for those that may not respond to conventional therapeutic intervention the question remains, can exercise be an effective alternative to conventional therapy and medication in relieving depression?

In some cases, the effectiveness of antidepressants to extreme cases of depression has been found to be poor. Studies have shown that between 20 percent and 59 percent of cases in primary care stop taking antidepressants within the first three weeks of the drugs prescription. Effectiveness of exercise as an antidepressant has been the subject of research for several decades and literature on the subject is still growing .In the past decade, exercise has been the most preferred intervention mechanism for cases of depression. In the U.K for instance, primary care for depression cases   seems to have become very popular with exercise, with many organizations and health care institutions recommending regular exercise for most depression cases.

Several plausible mechanisms on how exercise acts as an antidepressant have been put forward. Taking regular exercise is taken as a virtue in developed countries. A depression patient who exercises regularly may get a positive response from other people and an increased sense of self-worth. Exercise may act as a diversion from negative thinking and the masterly of a new art may be important. Physical activity may bring physiological effects such as in endorphin and monoamine. Research on the effectiveness of exercise as an antidepressant has yielded positive results as explained below.

According to Medicine for Science in Sports and Exercise journal, depression is a common problem in the present society. It is expensive to the healthcare system, and if available, alternative and effective low cost therapies, which do not have negative side effects, should be applied in the treatment program.

Research shows that there is a positive relationship between exercise and decreased depression cases. This research shows that the antidepressant effect of exercise commences as early as the first session of exercise program and the effects go on beyond the end of session of exercise. These effects are consistent across age, gender, exercise group, body size and level of depression being managed (Kelly, Tran, 1995)

Exercise has major antidepressant effects when training is longer than 9 weeks and involves more session’s .Exercise for longer sessions, higher intensity and when practiced for a greater number of days across a week had greater antidepressant effects. Exercise has been found to reduce depression more than relaxation, engaging in enjoyable activities and produced same effect as psychotherapy. Exercises combined with drug therapy produce the most desirable effects, though the effects are not far from those produced by exercise alone.

Besides the treatment of depression, exercise is recommended because it has several additional health benefits. Cases of hypertension, diabetes and other ailments are recommended to make exercise a regular lifestyle. It is also useful in the management of body weight, shape and other social and physiological aspects of human health.

Mental Health Journal research shows that there is growing body of work demonstrating that exercise promotes wellness and mental health. Short workouts for instance, could help decrease sadness, tension and anger along with improving resistance to diseases in healthy people. You don’t have to be sickly from a clinical or diagnosed mental illness to get substantial mental health benefit from exercise and fitness .Many people do physical exercise to boost confidence along with the reduction of anxiety and stress all of which contribute to psychological health and well being. As a result, exercise can be viewed as preventative or wellness activity that may help prevent physical and emotional ailments (Jenifer, 2000)

The bodys’ natural release of endorphin is seen as the reason for the feeling of well being that is generated after and during exercise. The chemicals which are released by the brain are the bodies’ natural painkillers and can result to increased feeling of happiness. When you engage in physical exercise the mind will releases endorphin which will result to mental wellbeing reducing depression.

According to British Medical Journal, wellness is a holistic concept and includes physical and mental components. It involves the establishment of the emotional and physical needs and the lifestyles that are desirable in the achievement of those particular needs.

For decades, advantages of physical exercise for many psychological conditions have been reported. Health psychologists have advocated for the establishment and maintenance of exercise habit as apart of mental and physical health. A positive correlation between physical exercise and mental health variable has been reported. Exercise has been found to have significant effects on stress, depression, anxiety and moods. There is always a major reduction of stress rating among those who participate in physical exercise as opposed to those who are inactive. When a patient of major depression disorder is subjected to regular physical exercise the mind is stimulated to release endorphin which in return reduces the depression disorder.

According to the British Medical Journal, patients with severe or major depression disorders have been found to demonstrate very positive results when they were subject to regular physical program as compared to antidepressants (Debbie. A.L, 2000) .When offered both physical exercise and antidepressants patients where found to produce similar results.

Deeper methods of research have been employed in the study of the effectiveness of exercise as an antidepressant. Patients who were put on a watch program were found to demonstrate a very positive relationship towards reduction of depression.

Comparing the three articles, the major journal has indicated that there is a positive relationship between physical exercise and reduction of depression disorders, indicating that exercise can be used as an effective antidepressant. The two other articles have demonstrated the same result, that there exists a positive correlation between physical practice and reduction of depression disorders. Studies from both journals have demonstrated that exercise can take the place of antidepressant effectively. They have depicted reduced stress, anxiety and boosting the morale of the patients. The three documents therefore have been found to support each other.


Exercise is an effective antidepressant which can be employed successfully in the management of major depression disorders affecting the world today. Many Illnesses in the present society are either linked to poor diet or lack of enough physical exercise and although depression may result from uncontrollable factors like the loss of a loved one, exercise has been proved to work very effectively in the alleviation of depression. Production of endorphin by the brain during exercise relaxes the individual and even makes them forget or recover from the particular incident. Secondly, exercise sessions are very engaging and the patient unknowingly passes time in a very relaxed way and this helps in the reduction of depression disorders. The above three articles have clearly brought out this issue. This article is quite helpful in the management of depression in a very effective and less costly manner.


Kelley, G., & Tran, Z.V. (1995). Aerobic exercise and normotensive adults: A meta-analysis. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 27(10), 1371–1377.

Jenifer, C.P. (2000). Mental health benefits of exercise. Mental Health Journal.

Debbie, A.L.(2001) . The effectiveness of exercise as an intervention in the management of depression. British Medical Journal.