Exercise helps people with depression

Exercise is able to act as effectively as a second medication for many people experiencing depression. This is the finding of new research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, which showed physical activity to work as well as administering a second helping of antidepressant medication when the initial dose does not move patients to remission.

Scientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center - which has three Nobel Prize winners as active faculty members - demonstrated this to be applicable for as many as half of depressed people who found taking tablets did not help them first time around.

It was shown, however, that the level of exercise required is dependent on a patient's characteristics, such as gender.

Dr Madhuker Trivedi, Professor of Psychiatry at the institute, said: "Many people would rather use exercise than add another drug, particularly as exercise has a proven positive effect on a person's overall health and wellbeing."

Phil Johnson, a Chartered Psychologist, commented: "Exercise is known to release endorphins, which include the body's own 'antidepressants' dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline.

"Physical activity also enables greater oxygenation, which then affects cognitive function in a positive way, and this has resulted, for example, in carers encouraging exercise for people with dementia.

"There are other benefits of exercise that might not be immediately attributable to its role in wellbeing, but exercise tends to improve social contact as the activity more often involves being with other people, which in turn can positively impact upon identity and self-concept."