Does exercise positively impact patients experienc

Does exercise positively impact patients experienc


Exercise and its Clinical Benefits in Patients with Depression



Background: At the most basic level, when a patient is diagnosed with some sort of specific disease or condition, there is usually a list of pharmacological options that are available to help treat the disease itself or its accompanying symptoms. However, what if patients are against taking medicinal options and wish to explore other possibilities of treatment. This inflection point could be rectified with the involvement of exercise. There have been many studies that have been conducted and are still emerging that are indicative of the clinical benefit of exercise on depression. In a study by Blumenthal et al, 202 patients who met the criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD) and were subsequently diagnosed with MDD were randomly assigned into one of four categories. These categories were: supervised exercise within a group setting, home exercise, pharmacological treatment using an anti-depressant called sertraline, and a placebo pill. (Blumenthal 2007) What investigators found within this trial were that remission rates were as followed; 45% in patients in the group exercise setting, 40% within the home based exercise, 47% from the sertraline treatment, and 31% within the placebo group. (Blumenthal 2007) These results were conclusive that exercise therapy was comparable in efficacy to the standard anti-depressant sertraline.

            Furthermore, from the National Health Service (NHS) UK site, there were a few anecdotes from patients who had depression and the impact exercise had within their respective lives. One patient mentioned, “I’m a different person when I exercise regularly. When I run two or three times a week, my energy and my motivation lift. I think running really does help protect me from depression. When I don’t run regularly, I’m more prone to feeling low.” (NHS 2016) An important consideration to draw from her brief comment was the notion of exercising regularly. If exercise is something that is variable in terms of what part of day you’d engage in it, your body inherently will feel less inclined to make an effort to exercise. In comparison, let’s say you establish a routine where you would work out at a specific time in the morning, if this was done consistently, your body gradually becomes programmed to adapt to your gym routine of going each day.

            So the question soon arrives at the forefront of the mind; how does exercise exactly help improve depression? In simpler terms, our body synthesizes hormones called “endorphins” which circulate in our body and peak during different activities we engage in. (Harvard Health 2009) The role of endorphins is that it reduces perception of pain through actions within the nervous system and improves mood. (Harvard Health 2009) During exercise, the levels of circulating endorphins from your body are elevated which raises the mood of an individual who is depressed.


Exercises: There is a wide array of exercises that could be done. My recommendation would be to pick exercises that improve cardiac function and target your overall body.

1.     My first exercise would be jogging or walking for at least 10 minutes each day for at least five days a week.

2.     My second exercise would be to build upper body strength, to help boost self-esteem and to improve key muscles within your arms.

3.     My third exercise would be to engage in outdoor exercises. Many local towns have badminton, tennis, volleyball, and other outdoor activities.







1.     Blumenthal JA, Babyak MA, Doraiswamy PM, et al. Exercise and pharmacotherapy in the treatment of major depressive disorder. Psychosom Med. 2007;69(7):587–596

2.     "'I Run to Boost My Mood'" Stress, Anxiety and Depression. National Health Service, 01 June 2016. Web. 25 Aug. 2016. .

3.     "Exercise and Depression - Harvard Health." Harvard Health. Harvard Medical School, June 2009. Web. 25 Aug. 2016. .

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