Exercise is an evidence-based treatment for depression and anxiety. There is evidence to suggest that in the treatment of depression exercise interventions lead to a treatment effect with a magnitude of effect similar to other established forms of treatment such as CBT and medication (Johnsen & Fribog, 2015; Kirsch et al, 2008; Kvam et al, 2016). Psychologists believe that exercise is beneficial for a number of reasons:
- Regular increase can increase your energy levels, which can have knock-on effects upon how you engage in valued activities
- Exercise can help you to sleep better which is an important effect given the important role of poor sleep in the maintenance of mental health problems
- Exercise can lead to increases in self-esteem and resilience
- Exercise lowers your risk of death
- Exercise lowers your risk of ill health
- Exercise has a positive effect upon mental performance
What Does Exercise Do For The Mind And Body? is an information handout presenting facts about the health benefits of exercise. It is designed as a guide for clients who are contemplating exercising, and there is evidence from multiple research studies that “exercise prescription or motivational messages in printed form or by computer are more effective than face-to-face counselling alone” (Richardson et al, 2005).
This is a Psychology Tools information handout. Suggested uses include:
- Client handout – use as a psychoeducation resource
- Discussion point – use to provoke a discussion and explore client beliefs
- Therapist learning tool –improve your familiarity with a psychological construct
- Teaching resource – use as a learning tool during training
- Budde, H., & Wegner, M. (Eds.). (2018). The Exercise Effect on Mental Health: Neurobiological Mechanisms. CRC Press.
- Johnsen, T. J., & Friborg, O. (2015). The effects of cognitive behavioral therapy as an anti-depressive treatment is falling: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 141(4), 747.
- Kirsch, I., Deacon, B. J., Huedo-Medina, T. B., Scoboria, A., Moore, T. J., & Johnson, B. T. (2008). Initial severity and antidepressant benefits: a meta-analysis of data submitted to the Food and Drug Administration. PLoS medicine, 5(2), e45.
- Kvam, S., Kleppe, C. L., Nordhus, I. H., & Hovland, A. (2016). Exercise as a treatment for depression: a meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 202, 67-86.
- Richardson, C. R., Faulkner, G., McDevitt, J., Skrinar, G. S., Hutchinson, D. S., & Piette, J. D. (2005). Integrating physical activity into mental health services for persons with serious mental illness. Psychiatric Services, 56(3), 324-331.