Many studies have found that depression improves with exercise. A study by Lynette C Craft at Michigan State University takes us a step closer to understanding why.
The study set out to examine two proposed explanations for why exercise tends to reduce depression symptoms – self-efficacy (the person’s belief that they can cope with their depression) and distraction.
The study followed nine women on a nine-week exercise programme, and a control group of 10 women not on the programme. All the women were diagnosed with ‘moderate depression’ and were on antidepressants.
The study found that at the end of the programme, the participants had reduced their depression with a strong support for self-efficacy as a causal mechanism. There was less support for distraction as a causal mechanism. The control group’s depression levels were unchanged.
I found this in the BPS Research Digest – well worth subscribing to.
I do wonder if the improvement in depression levels could have been due to the physical effects of exercise as well as improved self-efficacy…
Update: more recently, studies have found that chronic inflammation may be linked to depression, and consequently that the anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric (and its key active ingredient, curcumin) may help with depression.