As a Clinical Psychologist and researcher i have been fascinated by the possibility than my hobby and work could meet together given the possible psychological benefits of running. I found this great piece summarizing some of the findings at Sports Are 80% Mental.
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.
Jasper Smits, director of the Anxiety Research and Treatment Program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas 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 and anxiety.
The researchers presented their findings March 6 in Baltimore at the annual conference of the Anxiety Disorder Association of America. Their workshop was based on their therapist guide "Exercise for Mood and Anxiety Disorders," (Oxford University Press, September 2009).
"Individuals who exercise report fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression, and lower levels of stress and anger," Smits says. "Exercise appears to affect, like an antidepressant, particular neurotransmitter systems in the brain, and it helps patients with depression re-establish positive behaviors. For patients with anxiety disorders, exercise reduces their fears of fear and related bodily sensations such as a racing heart and rapid breathing."
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