On Tuesday morning I went to an Active Living seminar to listen to Dr. Guy Faulkner, Canadian Research Chair in Applied Public Health, talk about exercise and depression. He compared the evidence for exercise vs. drugs as anti-depressants. His conclusion? Compared to anti-depressants, when exercise is used as a treatment for depression, it is as effective, less expensive, can be self-administered and has no negative side effects.
Dr. Faulkner argues that exercise should be presented as a treatment option, along with counseling and drugs to everyone, because it is as effective as conventional methods. As he says,
“There is a mountain of evidence”
With reviews of 20 different studies on the effect of exercise on depression there was almost no difference between exercise and anti-depressants.
Why don’t doctors prescribe exercise? There is still little awareness or understanding in the medical community, even with more than 15 years of research. There are no exercise reps going to visit doctors to provide information on the value of exercise. In Canada, the exercise guidelines for physicians view it as a “complementary medicine”, somewhere between light therapy and St. John’s Wort.
I agree with Dr. Faulkner when he says that physical activity is a mental health promotion strategy. It prevents and treats depression, improves daily life, and increases happiness and well-being. The best part? It only takes 30 minutes a day to improve your health, physical and mental.
Change your mind, change your health,
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