Duke University Medical Center researchers have proven that exercise may be as effective in overcoming depression short-term and even more effective in the long run.
Bottom Line: If you are depressed and want to 1) feel better or 2) never see that blue mood return, plan to get at least 30 minutes of brisk exercise three times a week.
According to the Associated Press, researchers studied 156 patients with major depression, aged 50 or older. They were randomly assigned to three groups: an exercise only group, a group that received the antidepressant Zoloft and a combination group.
At the end of four months of treatment, all three groups had comparable reduced symptoms, with 60.4 percent for the exercise group, 65.5 percent for the medication group, and 68.8 percent for the combined group.
After a six-month follow-up study, researchers found that the exercise group had a much lower rate of depression at 30%, compared with the medication group at 52% and the combined group at 55%. The exercise group also showed a significantly lower relapse rate at only 8% compared with 38% of the medication group and 31% of the combined group.
“The present findings suggest that a modest exercise program…is an effective, robust treatment for patients with major depression,” the study’s authors reported in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. Researchers said the severity of depression did not make a difference, nor did age.
According to my book, Healing Depression: A Holistic Guide (New York: Marlowe and Co., 1999), exercise had already been proven more effective than group therapy. Recently, researchers at Harvard found that putting women on a weight training program lifted their mood far more effectively than standard counseling.
The Duke study participants walked briskly, rode a stationary bike or jogged for 30 minutes, along with a 10-minute warmup and a 5-minute cooldown, three times per week.
This is much less exercise than the U.S. Surgeon General recommends, which is 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
“The effectiveness of exercise seems to persist over time,” says Duke psychologist James A. Blumenthal. “Patients who respond well to exercise and maintain their exercise have a much smaller risk of relapsing.”
Dr. Blumenthal theorized that exercisers gain a sense of control over their lives that drug-takers could not match. Perhaps the biggest question raised by the study: Why exercise alone works better long-term not only than Zoloft, but also better than the combination of drugs and exercise.
Conclusion: Next time you feel blue, write yourself a prescription for sneakers.
Iron Deficiency Hurts Exercise
If your cardio workouts feel like they’re dragging you down, you may want to look at your diet.
According to researchers at Cornell University, 42 young women whose blood iron levels were low, but not low enough to cause anemia, improved their cycling time simply by taking a 10-mg. supplement of iron twice a day.
Sports medicine experts have observed for years that endurance athletes, particularly females, frequently have iron deficiencies. But research by a team of Purdue University researchers suggests that even moderate exercise may lead to iron depletion in women.
Philip Maffetone, author of In Fitness and Health, says that iron is an important nutrient for aerobic muscles.
Low iron leads to low hemoglobin, reducing your oxygen carrying capacity.
My favorite way to get iron? Shaklee Vita Lea, a multivitamin. Unlike other multis that can’t be broken down or absorbed by the body, Shaklee Vita Lea is all organic and dissolves within seven minutes.
You may also ask your doctor to test your ferritin level during your checkup.
Mark Your Calendars:
Total Fitness Party Sunday, Nov. 19
Total Fitness clients, yoga students, Brain Gym practitioners and Shaklee customers are invited on Sunday, Nov. 19, to join us for an evening of cookies and tall tales, beginning at 7 p.m.
R.S.V.P. to 404-350-8581 to let us know if you can make it to hear our private yoga client and Master Storyteller Betty Ann Wylie.
Betty Ann’s audiences have included everybody from corporate honchos from the Fortune 500 to schoolkids all over the state of Georgia and storytelling enthusiasts throughout the Southeast.
We’ll be celebrating the birthdays of yoginis (that’s a female yoga practitioner) Alba Adrian and Anne Turner, as well as Total Fitness VP of operations Henry Edmunds. Allow this to be your “mental health” day—plan to indulge in cookies, cake and hot chocolate as we listen to Betty Ann.
The Book of Joy: Coming Dec. 16-17
Learn how nutrition, brain integration and a wealth of mind-body techniques can alleviate stress and depression and lead to a more joyful life.
Catherine Carrigan has taught this seminar, based on her book, Healing Depression: A Holistic Guide (New York: Marlowe and Co., 1999) at Seattle’s Depression Wellness Network, where she is honorary board chairman, as well as in Denver, New York, Salt Lake City, Ventura, Ca., and Atlanta.
Science knows what happens when you are joyful—come discover these secrets so you can replicate them in your own life. You’ll learn practical information that can be put to immediate use to ease not only holiday stress, but enable you to start the New Year off with a higher potential.
Value: $350, or $325 with early registration by Nov. 26. Call 404-350-8581 for more information.