Exercise is a magic drug for many people with depression and anxiety disorders, and it should be more widely prescribed by mental health care providers, according to researchers who analyzed the results of numerous published studies.
"Exercise has been shown to have tremendous benefits for mental
health," says Jasper Smits, director of the Anxiety Research and
Treatment Program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "The more
therapists who are trained in exercise therapy, the better off patients
Smits and Michael Otto, psychology professor at Boston
University, based their finding on an analysis of dozens of
population-based studies, clinical studies and meta-analytic reviews
related to exercise and mental health, including the authors'
meta-analysis of exercise interventions for mental health and studies
on reducing anxiety sensitivity with exercise. The researchers' review
demonstrated the efficacy of exercise programs in reducing depression
The traditional treatments of cognitive behavioral therapy and
pharmacotherapy don't reach everyone who needs them, says Smits, an
associate professor of psychology.