Can exercise really improve my mood?

Can exercise really improve my mood?

Yes. Just taking a brisk walk three times a week may help you recover faster from depression, reduce its severity, and even ward off the blues in the first place. Hundreds of studies have found that exercise can help relieve physical and emotional symptoms in clinically depressed people.

Others have found that people who work out regularly, whether they're young or old, tend to have better self-esteem and fewer physical and mental health problems.

In one study, college students who did aerobic exercise for five weeks recovered faster and more fully from stressful life events than those who practiced relaxation techniques. In fact, a Duke University Medical Center study of 156 clinically depressed patients found exercise to be more effective at easing depression over the long term than the anti-depressant medication Zoloft.

In this clinical trial, patients in the exercise group took three supervised classes per week in which they used a treadmill or stationary bicycle at 70 to 85 percent of their maximum heart rate for 30 minutes, according to a report published in Psychosomatic Medicine.

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