The Best Anti-Depressant Ever? Exercise!

It's been long-known that physical activity boosts serotonin levels and makes people feel better, but exercise is now being called the "magic drug" in combating depression and anxiety, according to an AOL health story.

Scientists at Southern Methodist University and Boston University believe that, when it comes to easing anxiety and addressing depression, working out is even more powerful than previously believed. The researchers reviewed dozens of clinical studies on the relationship between exercise and mental health and found that patients report less anxiety, depression and stress after working out.

"Exercise appears to affect, like an antidepressant, particular neurotransmitter systems in the brain, and it helps patients with depression re-establish positive behaviors. For patients with anxiety disorders, exercise reduces their fears of fear and related bodily sensations such as a racing heart and rapid breathing," said study co-author Michael Otto, psychology professor at BU. Otto and co-author Jasper Smits, director of the Anxiety Research and Treatment Program at SMU, presented their findings at the Anxiety Disorders Association of America's annual conference in March.

Smits says as little as 25 minutes of physical activity can mean the difference between a bad day and a good one. Apparently, a little (exercise) goes a long way to a good mood.

Story by Anne Driscoll, originally published by Tonic

Photo by adria.richards via Flickr

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