Depression, or Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), is a “mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss”. It is not only a mental issue, but also physical. MDD is associated with an increase of all-cause mortality, due to a higher incidence of cardiovascular diseases. And it may compromise normal day-to-day activities too.
On the other hand, patients with chronic physical diseases frequently exhibit associated depressive symptoms, often related with low levels of physical activity.
Current guidelines from the WHO recommend 150 min of moderate aerobic exercise per week, or even 300 min (or 150 min of vigorous aerobic activity) for a better outcome on health. Thus, physical activity has the potential to improve depression, whose patients often live a sedentary lifestyle, while improving cardiorespiratory fitness.
Marathon runners usually exceed WHO recommendations for aerobic exercise. Furthermore, completion of a marathon is associated with the so-called “runner´s high”.
A recent study on amateur marathon runners showed that endurance training increased their levels of positive affect while decreasing depressive symptoms when compared with sedentary controls.
Thus, 150 minutes of aerobic exercise, or even higher training volumes, and a marathon completion itself, had positive effects on different mood parameters. These potentially antidepressive effects had no significant side-effects.
Therefore, supervised aerobic exercise should be offered in the recovery therapies of MDD patients.
MORE RUNNING Þ BETTER HEALTH Þ LESS DEPRESSION Þ LONGER LIFE
Be active and you will have a better chance of being happier.
Roeh A, Lembeck M, Papazova I, Pross B, Hansbauer M, Schoenfeld J, Haller B, Halle M, Falkai P, Scherr J, Hasan A. Marathon running improves mood and negative affect. J Psychiatr Res. 2020 Nov; 130:254-259. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2020.08.005.