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Exercise Fights Depression Better Than Drugs


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By Margarita Nahapetyan

It has been known for many years that a good moderate exercise can lead to an increased productivity and improved mood. Now, according to a new U.S. study, as far as mood boosting abilities of physical activity are concerned, they are actually much longer lasting than it was thought before, improving mood even 12 hours after the workout.

To come up with this conclusion, scientists at the University of Vermont have involved 48 volunteer college students who they randomly split into two groups - 24 students were asked to ride an exercise bike for exactly 20 minutes at moderate pace, while another 24 did absolutely no exercising for the same period of time. After that all the participants were asked to fill out appropriate questionnaires at regular intervals so the investigators could evaluate their overall mood as well as how they felt in general. The mood was analyzed at several intervals: 1 hour, 2 hours, four, eight, twelve, and 24 hours. The questions addressed such issues as perceivable tension, anger, vigor, fatigue, confusion and depression.

The results revealed that individuals in the workout group demonstrated a noticeable improvement in mood immediately after the physical activity. And what is more, students in the first group also appeared to be in high spirits after two, four, eight and even 12 hours after exercise, compared to volunteers who did not perform any exercise at all. Oppositely, 24 hours later, the experts did not observe any difference in mood between the members of the two groups.

There is a number of previous studies demonstrating that there is significant improvement in mood after exercise, but the new study shows that those improvements are much longer lasting than it was thought before, said a principal researcher of the study, Jeremy Sibold, an assistant professor in the Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Science at the University of Vermont. The results of the new study are all the more important in the cases of people who are under depression or suffer acute stress, he said. "Daily exercise can improve your mood and mitigate some of the stressors of your day. It is clear that exercise is critical for both physical health and mental health." Sibold explained.

Surprisingly, a large number of individuals report a happier mood, feelings of accomplishment, and other positive emotions after an exercise. According to scientists, just a 20-minute workout is enough to improve one's state of mind. The reason is because after the exercise, the brain releases endorphins - the hormones that act as antidepressants and stress reducers and make people feel good in the most natural way.

The study was presented lat week at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine. Researchers plan to conduct further investigations to find out exactly what is needed to be done in order to ensure that the mood boosting effects of physical activity last as long as it is possible.

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