Exercise isn’t only good for losing weight. According to various mental health professionals, it is also great treatment for those suffering from anxiety and/or depression.
Jasper Smits, a psychologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, states, “It’s become clear that [exercise] is a good intervention, particularly for mild to moderate depression.” While exercise as a depression and anxiety treatment isn’t as well-research as other forms of treatment (particularly psychotherapy and medication), it seems to be a healthy alternative or treatment supplement.
You’re heard of the runners high? Well, that myth isn’t a myth. It’s proven that exercise boosts your mood, so why shouldn’t it help those with anxiety or depression?
According to various small studies and Daniel Landers, a professor emeritus in the Kinesiology Department of Arizona State University, not only can anxiety or depression sufferers benefit from the short-term “high” after exercising, they can also enjoy longer-term relief.
Researcher Michael Otto of Boston University, along with Smits, have authored a guidebook aimed toward mental health professionals; guides for consumers and primary care physicians are in the works.
In his ideal world, Smits says that anxious or depressed people would receive written exercise prescriptions along with suggestions about how to get started and stick with the exercise regimen.
Research is still being done to answer some unanswered questions regarding exercise as a supplemental treatment, but at this time, it looks promising.