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Walking, jogging, yoga and strength training effective tools against depression: Study

A recent study highlights the efficacy of various physical activities like walking, jogging, yoga, and strength training in alleviating depression symptoms, underscoring their potential as adjunctive treatments alongside traditional therapies.

Rahul Pratyush Written By: Rahul Pratyush New Delhi Published on: February 15, 2024 15:00 IST
Image Source : FREEPIK Walking, jogging, and yoga combats depression: Study

A recent study suggests that engaging in physical activities like walking, jogging, yoga, and strength training can significantly alleviate symptoms of depression. With over 300 million people worldwide affected by depression, incorporating exercise alongside psychotherapy and medication can be beneficial. The review, based on 218 trials involving 14,170 participants, indicates that more vigorous activities tend to yield greater benefits, potentially making exercise a core treatment for depression alongside traditional therapies.

Researchers from various countries emphasize that exercise, particularly vigorous forms, should be considered alongside psychotherapy and medication as primary treatments for depression. Different exercises show varying degrees of effectiveness, with dance showing large reductions in depression, followed by moderate reductions in activities like walking or jogging, yoga, strength training, mixed aerobic exercises, and tai chi or qigong.

Moreover, combining exercise with SSRIs or psychotherapy can provide additional benefits, suggesting exercise's potential as a supplementary treatment. Interestingly, certain exercises seem to be more effective based on gender and age, with strength training being more beneficial for women and yoga or qigong for men. The benefits of exercise extend across various demographics and health conditions, highlighting its broad applicability in managing depression.

The study also underscores the importance of social interaction, mindfulness, and exposure to green spaces in explaining the positive effects of exercise on depression. Despite the promising findings, the quality of evidence remains low, and long-term monitoring of participants is limited. Additionally, barriers such as physical, psychological, or social factors may hinder participation in exercise for some individuals.

The researchers advocate for the inclusion of exercise in clinical practice guidelines for depression, particularly emphasizing the benefits of vigorous-intensity exercise. "Our findings support the inclusion of exercise as part of clinical practice guidelines for depression, particularly vigorous-intensity exercise. Health systems may want to provide these treatments as alternatives or adjuvants to other established interventions while also attenuating risks to physical health associated with depression," they said. 

(with IANS inputs)

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