Published on July 25, 2022

Using Exercise to Treat Depression

Man Doing Yoga Outside

For quite some time now, health care practitioners have encouraged regular exercise to help manage mental health and depression. As time marches on and more research becomes available, we find this recommendation even more important and impactful.

A recent systematic review and meta-analysis of more than 191 studies published in JAMA Psychiatry in April 2022 found that 130 participants showed significant mental health benefits from being physically active, even at activity levels below public health recommendations. People who performed exercises equivalent to two and a half hours of brisk walking per week had a significantly lower risk of depression than those who reported no physical activity at all. People who performed higher volumes of exercise had even lower risk of depression.

I think the takeaway here is every little bit counts. Try not to give yourself the excuse that you don’t have an hour and a half to carve out of every day to go to the gym. Set small goals. Start with 10 minutes of exercise every day. It can be just going for a brisk walk around the block, riding a stationary bike at home, performing resistance training or going to a yoga class. But do something. Once you achieve those small goals, I think you will find you gradually want to set bigger goals and accomplish more. And those gradual, continued accomplishments also play a big role in mental health.

Dave Bearss, P.T., D.P.T., C.S.C.S., T.P.I., is a physical therapist who specializes in sports medicine and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He sees patients at the Campus Ridge Building, located on the campus of MyMichigan Medical Center Midland. To schedule an appointment, call the office at (989) 837-9100.