Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Study--Running Improves Mood

It's true. We've all heard it from our doctors, families and friends. "Exercise and you'll feel better." Now researchers have gone and proven it. Researchers from the University of Vermont evaluated the overall mood of two groups of students at several intervals: one hour, two, four, eight, 12 and 24 hours. The questions addressed tension, anger, vigor, fatigue, confusion and depression. The students who rode a bicycle for 20 minutes at moderate intensity scored significantly higher than the non-exercise group at every interval up to 12 hours.

This newly discovered long-term effect was one of the reasons I noted this article in my Running Times magazine. Previous research had shown a mood boost immediately following exercise. Nobody had ever proven this long-term benefit before. Knowing I may have 12 hours of relief if I can get myself out on the road may help get me out the door on rough days.

The second point to note, which again will help on rough days, is that I don't need to run myself into the ground to get this benefit. The students rode their bikes at "moderate intensity." Granted, moderate intensity may feel like maximum intensity on bad days, but it is nice to know I can boost my mood without having to torture myself. If we remember this study when our moods interfere with our plans, when moving feels impossible, maybe we'll be able to move anyway.

What do you think? Have you been helped by exercise? Did the benefit last?


Some guy named John said...

The dilemma, of course, is that especially busy and stressful days (for me anyway) are the days on which it's most tempting to skip the run. But those are the days when we need it the most! I've finally figured out that if the rest of life feels overwhelming, I can't afford not to go running.

Anonymous said...

But what if you're too sick (depressed) to take the best possible medicine (running)? Also, the dilemma seems to be to be a chicken and egg problem. Do I feel better because I run; or do I run because I'm feeling better?

etta said...

Yes, getting out on our bad days is definitely a challenge. I often miss my runs on those days even though I know if I could go, I'd likely feel better. It is a constant battle.