Reading Review: Exercise and Depression

I’ve exercised regularly since about 2005.  When I lived in Connecticut I join the local Curves.  I also walked our dog, Nicky, daily and jogged off and on to participate in the annual Thanksgiving Day race.  Of course there have been times when I have slacked off on my exercise, weeks when I have ‘taken a break.’

I find, though, that when I am exercising I feel better.  When exercising I feel better physically, I sleep better and my PTSD symptoms are less severe.  Exercise is good for my mental health.   Right now I am in Physical Therapy for a problem with my knee and I am not allowed to jog for the time being.  I took this news pretty hard since I’ve enjoyed jogging lately.  I didn’t want to stop and risk my physical and, more importantly, my mental health. (Luckily I have found other ways to achieve the aerobic workout I desire.  I do hope to get back to jogging.)

I read an article on the link between exercise and depression.   (Harris, Alex H.S; Cronkite, Ruth; Moos, Rudolf.  “Physical Activity, Exercise Coping and Depression in a 10-year Cohort Study of Depressed Patients.”  Journal of Affective Disorders, 2006.) While this is a scholarly research article and a little over my head, I did pick up on the connection between increase in exercise and decrease in depression symptoms.  I wonder if the same could be extrapolated about PTSD?  If so, it could point to additional benefits of recreational therapy, like dog training and other activities!

“Epidemiological studies of community samples have shown that individuals who engage in more physical activity are less likely to be concurrently depressed.”  (Harris, 79)  What better reason to get off the couch?  Bady thinks it’s time to play some ball!

What has been your experience with exercise?  Have you found exercise to have a beneficial effect on your mental health or coping ability?


3 thoughts on “Reading Review: Exercise and Depression

  1. Wow this really hits home for me. I was already struggling with a pretty severe PTSD flare up when I injured my knee this past February. I wasn’t able to have surgery until April 20th and not being able to exercise is really taking its toll on me and everyone around me. Exercise can calm me when nothing else will do. When the surgeon told me that I probably will never be able to run again, i actually cried. I was just now well enough to start Physical Therapy today. I would love to hear what you have found as acceptable substitutes for jogging if you don’t mind sharing.
    Thank you!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Eliza! I’m still struggling with my knee. I’m back to jogging a little, but only at quarter mile intervals. For a while I was walking at a 4.0 on the treadmill at an incline. That didn’t bother my knee too bad and got my heart-rate up. Still, it wasn’t the same. I’ve also done some yoga and plilates during this time. Even so, I lke jogging best. It helps me stay more mentally / emotionally stable. I’m not sure if my knee will allow me to get back to my previous level. I wish you the best with your recovery and PT. I would love to hear how things are going as you progress and what you dicover as helpful / unhelpful on your journey.

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