Scientists from several countries wanted to study the effect of sport on depression and concluded that sport reduces the risk of depression, especially in the early stages of the onset of depression, regardless of age and physical condition. This is what a group of scientists from Brazil, Belgium, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Sweden have achieved in a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
The effect of sport on depression
The researchers studied data from approximately 50 participants in a cohort study that looked at whether physical activity in people without depression or any mental illnesses led to a lower risk of developing depression, as they were able to evaluate data for 266,939 people, 47% of them.
Most of the participants hail from Europe, North America and Oceania.
An analysis of the data showed that participants who were not very mobile or physically active were more likely to have depression than those who had high physical activity.
In addition, scientists have found that this protective effect is equally present in adolescents, adults and the elderly. This means that the effect of sport on depression does not play any role in it.
“Our analysis of data for more than a quarter of a million people shows that people who keep moving and exercise are less likely to suffer from depression,” said Brendon Stubbs, a co-author of the study. A high level of physical activity has a protective function for children, adults and the elderly against disease.
Chronically ill patients suffer, in addition to the symptoms of their illness, from the effect of the disease on their psychological state and sometimes from depression, too. Physical activity – as several studies have shown on this topic – helps fight depression, fatigue and stress in patients with chronic diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, fibromyalgia, chronic pain and obesity. Not all patients with these diseases are able to exercise, but whoever can do it is highly desirable and beneficial.
How does physical activity help fight depression, fatigue and stress in patients with chronic diseases?
When you exercise, chemicals called “endorphins” are released from the brain. These substances are permanently present in the brain, but they need physical effort to be excreted. The types of physical effort that the brain needs to release endorphins are varied. They may be specific sports, sex, joy, laughter, body massage and sleep. In addition to physical exertion, chocolate also can trigger the secretion of endorphins, which is why people love it. When endorphins are released from the brain, they control the psychological state and help fight anxiety, depression, fear and pain and lead to feelings of pleasure.
Psychiatrists Associations Worldwide advises patients and people suffering from depression and anxiety to exercise regularly. This is not a panacea, of course, and it cannot replace medicine every time, but some. Even if it does not succeed in replacing the drug, sport is an effective complementary medicine for many patients.
Research on the effect of physical activity in patients with chronic diseases
New research published recently in the medical journal Archives of Internal Medicine examines the effect of physical activity on patients with chronic illnesses who have not been diagnosed as depressed but who suffer from low mood and sadness due to their illness. Researchers studied 90 previous studies involving more than 10,000 participants with diseases such as cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, fibromyalgia, chronic pain and obesity. One group of these participants was asked to exercise three times a week for 17 weeks. The second group was asked not to exercise.
Despite these results, the research points to some reservations, such as the fact that not all patients with chronic diseases are allowed or able to exercise. It is also important to remember that endorphins are released in the brain after exercise only for a temporary period and disappear after a few hours. Also, the researchers added that the best sports were not examined among all the known types, such as aerobics, jogging, walking, swimming, strength training or weight lifting.
Despite these reservations, it is certain that the effect of exercise on mental health is a positive effect, without a doubt, and many people who exercise regularly for several years can confirm this, whether they suffer from illness or not. Exercising helps in losing weight, maintaining a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle, this leads to boosting self-confidence and reducing depression. However, also for people who do not suffer from obesity, but from another disease or do not suffer from any disease at all, exercise can help them maintain a healthy heart and lungs and feel happier.
In addition to physical activity, it is advised to maintain healthy nutrition and practice favorite hobbies, such as meeting with friends, reading, hiking, listening to music and everything that improves your mood. It is recommended that you do these activities every day, especially when you are feeling sad and upset. In cases where you are not able to get rid of the feeling of sadness and this feeling dominates you, it is advised to go to receive medical advice to examine the possibility of starting treatment with medicines. Today there is no need to go to a psychiatrist to get a prescription for anti-depressant medication, because family doctors can also do this. In cases where the family doctor decides that this is needed, he will direct you to treatment by a psychologist or psychiatrist.