I recently stumbled upon a brief article that offers a evidence of how aerobic exercise helps to reduce depressive symptoms. Take a look…
Thirty minutes of meditation followed by 30 minutes of aerobic exercise twice a week significantly decreased depressive symptoms in patients with major depressive disorder, according to a study in the online Translational Psychiatry.
“The effects were robust, as evident by the nearly 40% reduction in depressive symptoms after only 8 weeks of training,” wrote researchers from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. “Interestingly, individuals without a clinical diagnosis of major depressive disorder also reported significant reductions in depressive symptoms.”
The study investigated the effects of a mental and physical training intervention that consisted of 30 minutes of focused-attention meditation followed by 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise twice a week over 8 weeks. Twenty-two college students with major depressive disorder and 30 healthy students participated in the investigation.
At the study’s end, all participants reported fewer depressive symptoms and ruminative thoughts, researchers found.
“By learning to focus their attention, the participants acquire new cognitive skills that reduce interference from negatively biased recollections,” researchers wrote. “These neuronal mechanisms activated during mental training with meditation are perhaps further strengthened and even ‘consolidated’ by the physical training with aerobic exercise that occurs immediately afterwards in this neurobehavioral intervention.”
A previous study involving 8 young mothers who were homeless and living at a residential treatment facility also found decreases in depression as well as reductions in anxiety and gains in motivation after the 8-week mental and physical training intervention, researchers noted.
The findings suggest the mental and physical training intervention may offer an accessible alternative to psychotropic medications and psychotherapy in the treatment of depression.
“There are two behavioral therapies, aerobic exercise and meditation, which have demonstrated benefits for individuals suffering with depression, are not accompanied by profound side effects and can be practiced across the lifespan,” researchers concluded. “Here, we provide evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of a combined behavioral approach in improving mental and cognitive health outcomes in individuals with major depressive disorder and otherwise healthy individuals.”
1. Alderman BL, Olson RL, Brush CJ, Shors TJ. MAP training: combining meditation and aerobic exercise reduces depression and rumination while enhancing synchronized brain activity. Translational Psychiatry. 2016 Feb. 2;6:e726.
2. Exercise and meditation — together — help beat depression [press release]. EurekAlert!: Washington, DC; Feb. 10, 2016.
Lauren F. White, LCPC
Anxiety and Stress Center
Orland Park, Illinois