They claim that physical exercise should be more widely prescribed as a treatment to tackle depressive or anxiety disorders.
Researchers based their finding on an analysis of dozens of population-based studies, clinical studies and meta-analytic reviews related to exercise and mental health, including the authors' meta-analysis of exercise interventions for mental health and studies on reducing anxiety sensitivity with exercise. The researchers' review demonstrated the effectiveness of exercise programs in reducing depression and anxiety.
"Exercise has been shown to have tremendous benefits for mental health," said one of the study authors from the University in Dallas.
"Individuals who exercise report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, and lower levels of stress and anger,"
"Exercise appears to affect, like an antidepressants, particular neurotransmitter systems in the brain, and it helps patients with depression re-establish positive behaviors. For patients with anxiety disorders, exercise reduces their fears of fear and related bodily sensations such as a racing heart and rapid breathing."
"Rather than emphasize the long-term health benefits of an exercise program - which can be difficult to sustain - we urge providers to focus with their patients on the immediate benefits," they said.
"After just 25 minutes, your mood improves, you are less stressed, you have more energy - and you'll be motivated to exercise again tomorrow. A bad mood is no longer a barrier to exercise; it is the very reason to exercise."
After patients had a health assessment, they were subjected to either 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity.
"This isn't about working out five times a week for the next year. It's about exercising for 20 or 30 minutes and feeling better today."
The researchers presented their findings at the annual conference of the Anxiety Disorder Association of America.
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