Exercise and Its Effect on Depression
Depression affects 340 million people worldwide and is ranked fourth in its global impact on modern society. The current review demonstrates that clinical long-term human studies need to be performed in an effort to provide conclusive evidence of whether physical activity can reduce or prevent the effects of depression and other mental disorders in humans. There have been hundreds of studies measuring the effects of exercise on depression since the early 1900s. Many of these studies indicate a solid correlation between exercise and sound mental health; however flaws in testing, methodology, and lack of study follow-up have hindered the collection of any conclusive results. Fifteen scholarly articles have been compiled in an effort to identify relationships and contradictions, as well as filling gaps and finding inconsistencies in previous studies. Of the 15 articles reviewed, 11 present clear evidence of exercise’s positive effect upon on study populations’ mental health. More in-depth studies are needed to end this debate once and for all.
Table of Contents
Populations of Test Subjects
Exercise and Its Effect on Depression
Vigorous physical activity has been a part of human life for eons. From the plains of Africa, where every day was a struggle to survive, to early pioneer America, where wanting something meant you had to work for it. That was the human condition, cursed to a life of physical labor that was directly linked to our very survival…until now.
Humans have learned to think their way out of performing the physical work necessary to support most of their everyday needs. Today, technology serves humankind all over the globe. While this is not a bad thing, research shows a direct correlation between vigorous physical activity and improved mental health, which suggests vigorous physical activity, is essential to humans maintaining high levels of both physical and mental health. Mental disorders and the lives of those they impact are of great significance in today’s American society. Vigorous physical activity has been attributed to the improvement of overall health and well being in the general population for thousands of years. Whether physical activity can have a measurable, positive effect upon previously diagnosed patients who already suffer from mood disorders in both clinical and non-clinical populations, is far beyond the scope of this paper, but this paper will review the evidence for physical activity’s positive effect upon human mental health and provide recommendations for future studies.
Compiling 15 scholarly peer-reviewed articles for inclusion in this Literature Review was completed using the following methods: An electronic literature search was conducted almost exclusively through Brandman University’s Leatherby Library link. All articles were required to be scholarly and peer-reviewed. No specific date of publication criterion entered. Keywords entered into the search were: Depression, mental illness, effects, exercise, and physical activity.
The publication years (and quantity) of the 15 articles selected are 2012 (1), 2011 (3), 2010 (3), 2009 (4), 2008 (1), 2007 (1), 2000 (1), and 1985 (1). As best as can be told from the data presented in the articles, contributors’ countries of origin (and quantity) are the United States of America (12), Brazil (9), Germany (7), Sweden (5), Canada (5), South Korea (4), England (4), Australia (3), and Greece (3). 11 of the articles keyed in on depression, nine to exercise, and five to physical activity. Other keyword hits from the selected articles are: Integrative Mental Health, self-efficacy, anti-depressant medications, psychological illness, sports, women, girls,...
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