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Exercise Treats Depression As Well As Therapy

I came across some exciting news recently. A new study has found that many common forms of exercise are just as effective as therapy in treating depression. This is something that I’ve always felt personally but it’s great to see that academics are backing up my opinion.

In the study presented in The BMJ, researchers reported that activities such as walking, yoga, jogging, and strength training were found to be the most effective exercises, especially when performed intensely. This is such great news because it means that we might see a pivot away from antidepressant medications in favour of exercise alongside psychotherapy.

Depression is a leading cause of disability around the world, and it can have a debilitating impact on people’s lives. It lowers life fulfillment more than debt, divorce, and diabetes, and can worsen other health conditions such as heart disease, anxiety, and cancer. This is why treating depression is so important.

Davie doing an incline dumbell press with Pablo

For many people, traditional treatments such as medication and therapy work well. However, there are others who are challenged with depression that is resistant to medication, or who don’t have access to medications. It’s estimated that about half of the people who have depression seek treatment, so finding alternative and easily accessible options is crucial.

In this new study, researchers compiled and analysed data from 218 studies on depression and exercise involving a sizable group of 14,000 people. While there is always some potential for bias in the studies, the overall benefits of exercise for both physical and mental health are impossible to ignore. I can attest to this personally. Michael Noetel of the University of Queensland in Australia, the study’s lead author, pointed out that the physical benefits of exercise, combined with the evidence suggesting that it helps with depression, make it a strong treatment option.

“None of these treatments are silver bullets. But, given how debilitating it is to have depression, almost all patients should be offered both exercise and therapy,” Noetel said.

Davie doing dips

This study is not the first to highlight the benefits of exercise for mental health. Previous research has also shown that regular physical activity can have a positive impact on mood and overall well-being. Adam Chekroud of the Yale School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, shared his thoughts on the findings, stating that exercise is a good approach to treating depression, along with other options such as therapy and medication.

As a fitness coach, I’ve always believed in the power of exercise to improve not only physical health but also mental well-being. It’s amazing to see more and more evidence supporting the idea that exercise can be a valuable tool in the fight against depression. Whether it’s going for a brisk walk, hitting the yoga mat, going for a run, or getting into some strength training, there are so many fun options to choose from.

Davie working out with Pablo

The one advantage that exercise has over therapy and medical solutions is that it’s accessible to everyone. Although it’s a big advantage, you don’t need special equipment or join a fancy gym to get your body moving. Whether you prefer to work out at home, in the great outdoors, or in a gym, there are plenty of options to fit your lifestyle.

If you’re someone who struggles with depression or knows someone who does, then I encourage you to consider incorporating regular exercise into your routine. It doesn’t have to be anything extreme – even just a short walk or some gentle stretching can make a big difference. The key is to find something that you enjoy and that makes you feel good. If you need help with that then you might want to invest in some coaching.

Of course, it’s important to remember that exercise is not a replacement for professional treatment. If you are dealing with depression, it’s essential to seek the guidance of a qualified mental health professional. That being said, adding regular exercise to your treatment plan can be a wonderful complement to other therapies and medications.

Davie bench press with Pablo

As a fitness and wellness coach, I’m always here to support and motivate you on your fitness journey. I believe in the power of movement to transform lives, and I’m thrilled to see more and more evidence supporting the idea that exercise is a valuable tool in the treatment of depression.

So, whether you’re a seasoned fitness enthusiast or someone who’s just getting started on their wellness journey, I hope this new research inspires you to prioritise regular physical activity, not just for your physical health but for your mental well-being too.

“Strength for Life”



Davie McConnachie

Davie McConnachie is Scotland’s leading health and wellness coach, multi-award-winning gym owner, motivational speaker and the founder of DMC Fitness, a fitness education facility known as the premier choice for 1-2-1 personal training. He has inspired thousands of people to fall in love with fitness – his true purpose and mission in life.

Diving into the world of fitness and wellness has helped Davie to deal with his own trauma and inner demons. He, overcame many dark times using his own unique methods to continue his cycle of healing.