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Physical exercise and depression.

Posted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:04 pm
by Sam Vara
Some people might be interested in the findings of a scientific study which appears to prove that physical exercise has little or no effect upon depression.

http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e2758

This was published in the prestigious British Medical Journal and has caused quite a stir in the UK media today. Overall I think it is good news, in that if people find that exercise helps them with their depression, then they are not going to give up. But if they are finding exercise hard going, then giving up (or not getting started!) is not flying in the face of scientific orthodoxy.

Re: Physical exercise and depression.

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 4:52 am
by DNS
Sam Vega wrote: But if they are finding exercise hard going, then giving up (or not getting started!) is not flying in the face of scientific orthodoxy.
How depressing (pun intended), because it may turn people away from moderate exercise which would improve their physical condition or it (the study) could remove the placebo effect exercise may have had, if in fact the findings of the study are correct (but like most studies I am sure there will be another that shows the opposite in the near future).

Re: Physical exercise and depression.

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:04 am
by danieLion
doesn't address the more specific claim that cardio helps w/depression
metta

Re: Physical exercise and depression.

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:05 am
by Hanzze
I guess it does not need much studies to see that physical exercise are always just compensations of not so well livelihood.

There is a experiences which is good for body and mind:
Walking

These are the five rewards for one who practices walking meditation. Which five?

He can endure traveling by foot; he can endure exertion; he becomes free from disease; whatever he has eaten & drunk, chewed & savored, becomes well-digested; the concentration he wins while doing walking meditation lasts for a long time.

These are the five rewards for one who practices walking meditation.
Running people just seek for a way to run away. It's good to make it just step by step. *smile*

The study is easy to be proved: "Sportsman, stop physical exercise! Will you be depressed?"

Re: Physical exercise and depression.

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:10 am
by Ben
Sam Vega wrote:Some people might be interested in the findings of a scientific study which appears to prove that physical exercise has little or no effect upon depression.

http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e2758

This was published in the prestigious British Medical Journal and has caused quite a stir in the UK media today. Overall I think it is good news, in that if people find that exercise helps them with their depression, then they are not going to give up. But if they are finding exercise hard going, then giving up (or not getting started!) is not flying in the face of scientific orthodoxy.
Thanks Sam. I think many people suffering depression report that they feel better, if even temporarily, following exercise. Its interesting to note that the beneficial effect on mood is temporary and that exercise doesn't cure depression. Because the effect on mood is temporary, it doesn't negate the fact that exercise can have a profound impact on mood - even if limited to the hours following exercise. I think exercise will remain an important component of a treatment regime.
kind regards,

Ben

Re: Physical exercise and depression.

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 7:36 am
by Sam Vara
Thanks Sam. I think many people suffering depression report that they feel better, if even temporarily, following exercise. Its interesting to note that the beneficial effect on mood is temporary and that exercise doesn't cure depression. Because the effect on mood is temporary, it doesn't negate the fact that exercise can have a profound impact on mood - even if limited to the hours following exercise. I think exercise will remain an important component of a treatment regime.
kind regards,

Ben
Yes, I agree. Those who find benefit, even temporarily, will continue to find it through exercise. I was however struck by the numbers of commentators in the media who were relieved that they could give up a regime which had not personally benefitted them, without feeling that they were somehow "at fault" for quitting.

Re: Physical exercise and depression.

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 8:27 am
by retrofuturist
Greetings,

What is better, from the perspective of depression, is to find whatever activity allows the cycles of depressive thoughts to be broken.

The actual manifested activity may be different for different people. Depression or not, the following is good advice...
MN 61: Ambalatthika-rahulovada Sutta wrote:"What do you think, Rahula: What is a mirror for?"

"For reflection, sir."

"In the same way, Rahula, bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions are to be done with repeated reflection.

"Whenever you want to do a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I want to do — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Would it be an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful bodily action with painful consequences, painful results, then any bodily action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction... it would be a skillful bodily action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then any bodily action of that sort is fit for you to do.

"While you are doing a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I am doing — is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it.

"Having done a bodily action, you should reflect on it: 'This bodily action I have done — did it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Was it an unskillful bodily action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful bodily action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, reveal it, lay it open to the Teacher or to a knowledgeable companion in the holy life. Having confessed it... you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction... it was a skillful bodily action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then you should stay mentally refreshed & joyful, training day & night in skillful mental qualities.

"Whenever you want to do a verbal action, you should reflect on it: 'This verbal action I want to do — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Would it be an unskillful verbal action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful verbal action with painful consequences, painful results, then any verbal action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction... it would be a skillful verbal action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then any verbal action of that sort is fit for you to do.

"While you are doing a verbal action, you should reflect on it: 'This verbal action I am doing — is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful verbal action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it.

"Having done a verbal action, you should reflect on it: 'This verbal action I have done — did it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Was it an unskillful verbal action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful verbal action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should confess it, reveal it, lay it open to the Teacher or to a knowledgeable companion in the holy life. Having confessed it... you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction... it was a skillful verbal action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then you should stay mentally refreshed & joyful, training day & night in skillful mental qualities.

"Whenever you want to do a mental action, you should reflect on it: 'This mental action I want to do — would it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Would it be an unskillful mental action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it would lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it would be an unskillful mental action with painful consequences, painful results, then any mental action of that sort is absolutely unfit for you to do. But if on reflection you know that it would not cause affliction... it would be a skillful mental action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then any mental action of that sort is fit for you to do.

"While you are doing a mental action, you should reflect on it: 'This mental action I am doing — is it leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Is it an unskillful mental action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it is leading to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both... you should give it up. But if on reflection you know that it is not... you may continue with it.

"Having done a mental action, you should reflect on it: 'This mental action I have done — did it lead to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both? Was it an unskillful mental action, with painful consequences, painful results?' If, on reflection, you know that it led to self-affliction, to the affliction of others, or to both; it was an unskillful mental action with painful consequences, painful results, then you should feel distressed, ashamed, & disgusted with it. Feeling distressed, ashamed, & disgusted with it, you should exercise restraint in the future. But if on reflection you know that it did not lead to affliction... it was a skillful mental action with pleasant consequences, pleasant results, then you should stay mentally refreshed & joyful, training day & night in skillful mental qualities.

"Rahula, all those brahmans & contemplatives in the course of the past who purified their bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions, did it through repeated reflection on their bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions in just this way.

"All those brahmans & contemplatives in the course of the future who will purify their bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions, will do it through repeated reflection on their bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions in just this way.

"All those brahmans & contemplatives at present who purify their bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions, do it through repeated reflection on their bodily actions, verbal actions, & mental actions in just this way.

"Thus, Rahula, you should train yourself: 'I will purify my bodily actions through repeated reflection. I will purify my verbal actions through repeated reflection. I will purify my mental actions through repeated reflection.' That's how you should train yourself."

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, Ven. Rahula delighted in the Blessed One's words.
Metta,
Retro. :)

Re: Physical exercise and depression.

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 12:37 pm
by alan
For exercise to be effective it must be intense, and it must be regular. I wonder if those chosen for the study actually did that. 10 minutes on treadmill every so often doesn't amount to much.
Tried to read the study but the soporific style made my brain bleed. Why can't they just plainly say what they did, and how they did it?

Re: Physical exercise and depression.

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 12:58 pm
by Sam Vara
For exercise to be effective it must be intense, and it must be regular. I wonder if those chosen for the study actually did that.
Apparently it did - the abstract specifies "all levels of intensity" over a period of months.

I know what you mean about the style. Most scientific papers are like that - they are so concerned not to misrepresent the findings that they end up being written by a committee, and read like it too...

Re: Physical exercise and depression.

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:18 pm
by alan
But what does 'all levels' mean? And over a period of months what was the frequency?

Re: Physical exercise and depression.

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 1:38 pm
by alan
I've found the discipline of regular exercise really counteracts the blues. Depressed people rarely are disciplined. Intense exertion leads to a healthy appetite and sound sleep. Depressed people usually don't eat well and never sleep well. The results of regular, intense exercise make you look better, which is at least one thing to be happy about in your life. Depressed people usually don't care what their body looks like, and, I suspect, use that as another reason to feel bad.
That was not a scientific study, just a study I did with myself.
I can also tell you that when bench pressing two extremely heavy dumbbells there will be no space in your mind left for depression.

Re: Physical exercise and depression.

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 2:40 pm
by Sam Vara
alan wrote:But what does 'all levels' mean? And over a period of months what was the frequency?

From the study:
The aspiration was for the participants to engage in moderate or vigorous activity for 150 minutes a week in bouts of at least 10 minutes, but if that seemed unrealistic then the facilitator encouraged any increase in physical activity, whatever the intensity.
I think the idea was to encourage depressed people to do what they could, in that this was comparable to what doctors, health carers, and the patients themselves would do under normal circumstances. There would be no sense in testing levels of exercise above what could be sustained without the intervention.

Re: Physical exercise and depression.

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:22 pm
by alan
I don't get that. Encouraging depressed people to do what they think they can do? How is that going to help?
You have to insist that they do what they think they cannot do--and then stand there, and watch. Otherwise, you'll end up with a study quietly requesting depressed people to move around a bit--as long as it isn't too much of a problem. That would not be a study of the effects of exercise. It would be a paper about how some clinicians wanted to study the effects of exercise. Maybe that is why it is such a slog to read.

Re: Physical exercise and depression.

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 4:32 pm
by Sam Vara
I don't get that. Encouraging depressed people to do what they think they can do? How is that going to help?
You have to insist that they do what they think they cannot do--and then stand there, and watch. Otherwise, you'll end up with a study quietly requesting depressed people to move around a bit--as long as it isn't too much of a problem. That would not be a study of the effects of exercise. It would be a paper about how some clinicians wanted to study the effects of exercise. Maybe that is why it is such a slog to read.
Yes, I agree. But it would not have been all that useful to measure the effects of a regime that could not be sustained under normal clinical conditions. And there are stringent conditions which prevent stressing patients out in clinical trials. They were, however, intensively coached and cajoled to increase the impact. Each subject had a "personal trainer" assigned to them. If they won't respond to that, then they are unlikely to respond to any ordinary measures.

Re: Physical exercise and depression.

Posted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:39 pm
by marc108
this is just a single study... there is a huge bulk of evidence suggesting physical activity does effect mood positively. we should never ignore the bulk of evidence for a single study.