Effects of Exercise on Depression



Depression is a disorder that, according to The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), affects 16 million people in the United States. People with this condition experience fatigue, insomnia, lack of motivation, memory loss, hypersomnia, fluctuation in body weight.

Some doctors are quick to prescribe medication for depression, with which can come with expensive and unpleasant side effects.  Fortunately, there is an all-natural remedy for depression. Exercise!


Exercise is the ultimate antidepressant. The health benefits of regular physical activity are indisputable.

Overwhelming data shows that with exercise, our physical health is improved in the following ways:  reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and stroke; protection against some cancers and osteoporosis; lower blood pressure and mortality risk; improved body composition and central nervous system functioning; better glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity; and stimulates the release of growth factors (naturally occurring substances capable of cellular growth, healing, propagation, and differentiation), which effects the abundance and survival of new brain cells.

Similarly, the relationship of exercise to depression can also have a positive effect on our mental health such as Improved: memory, executive control, sleep quality, cognition, mood and self-esteem; lessen: depression, chronic fatigue, stress and anxiety.  Problems in these areas have been known to cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.

Dr. Len Kravitz, Program Coordinator of Exercise Science at the University of New Mexico, states, “Individuals with clinical depression tend to be less active than healthy average adults”. Therefore, from a general health perspective, physical activity should be encouraged. Perhaps most interesting has been the response of patients (with diagnosed depression) describing exercise as “the most important element in comprehensive treatment programs for depression.”’

Let’s assume that you have convinced yourself to start working out… Great!  Now what? What type of exercising should you do?  How often?  Cardio vs weight lifting?



First and foremost, DO WHAT YOU ENJOY. Don’t turn this into a chore or something that you dread.  Doing something is better than doing nothing.  Secondly, knowing the types of exercises that you can, AND WILL, do is a big step toward taking charge of your health.


The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity to start with, but if that seems discouraging then shoot for 10 minutes per day.


Researchers “It should be noted that the majority of the research on how exercise effects brain function has been done using cardiovascular exercise as the intervention, and it is considered the most significant form of exercise for improved brain function,” (Hillman, Erickson, Kramer, 2008). However, Kramer, Erickson and Colcombe (2006) propose that programs combining aerobic exercise, resistance training and flexibility are quite effective for the improvement in cognitive function. The hypothesis is that the differences in flexibility, strength training and cardiovascular exercise may encourage a wide spectrum of neural and chemical adaptations in the brain.


There is an overwhelming amount of evidence showing that regular exercise is beneficial for both mental and physical well-being.  Regardless of the type of exercise performed, research has shown that movement can suppress and/or manage symptoms of depression.

SMARTfit has created solutions that combine mental and physical training that provides the ideal foundation for improving your body and mind.  Our SMARTfit™ exercise technology utilizes the latest in Brain Body Exercise Science to bring you a unique solution that improves mental and physical fitness. To learn more contact us at 1-800-900-8542 x 110.

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