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Depression is a relatively common condition in today’s society. It affects almost every aspect of people’s lives, and if left untreated it can lead to severe negative outcomes. The relationship between exercise and depression is complex. It can prevent a person from doing physical activity. While on the other hand, exercise can serve as a partial treatment for depression. This paper will examine how depression affects physical activity dropouts, as well as how exercise can affect it.
Physical Activity Dropouts
People living with a major depressive disorder are increasingly likely to drop out of physical activity. A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders on this subject stated that the dropout rate for people with depression is more than 18% and that people with more severe cases of depression have even higher rates of dropout (Stubbs et al. 457). These statistics can be explained by the way that depression affects the thinking process of a person. Sometimes it can create patterns of behavior that prevent people from exercising.
For example, depression is often accompanied by feelings of tiredness. These feelings can make people see exercise as a laborious and unrewarding activity. Therefore, they drop out of physical activity before it can become a routine. The lack of immediate visible effects combined with the physical demand for the activity makes it hard to maintain for people with depression. However, these dropout rates can be reduced. When exercise programs are conducted by physiotherapists and exercise physiologists, these statistics are much less prominent. Therefore, when working with people who have depression, more qualified personnel should be involved.
Effect of Exercise on Depression
People with depression drop out more often, but when they do not, it becomes a very effective treatment for depression. Multiple studies show that people with depression are likely to find exercise beneficial as a treatment for their condition (Schuch et al. 42; Josefsson et al. 259). However, the group of people with depression that is capable of consistently dedicating time and energy towards exercise is limited. The studies state that it is truly recommended only to people who are already motivated, physically healthy, and have only mild or moderate cases of depression. For people with major depressive disorder, some studies recommend aerobic exercises as it was the most effective type in randomized controlled trials of various exercise programs. The exercises must be of moderate-intensity and should be supervised by highly qualified professionals. Nevertheless, the antidepressant effect of exercise on depression suggests that further actions should be taken to create additional opportunities for people with depression to exercise effectively.
Depression often affects the motivation of people to do physical activity. The feelings of weakness prevent people from committing to exercise and lead to dropouts. These dropouts can be mitigated through the involvement of professionally trained physiologists who can assist the person in motivation and exercise routine creation, which is important because physical activity has shown to be a relatively effective method of treating mild and moderate types of depression. However, even people with major cases of depression can see benefits from aerobic exercises of moderate difficulty. While the dropout rates among people with depression cannot be resolved completely, they may be significantly reduced if a highly qualified staff is involved and correct measures are taken during preparation.
Josefsson, T., et al. “Physical Exercise Intervention in Depressive Disorders: Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review.” Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, vol. 24, no. 2, Apr. 2014, pp. 259–72. Wiley Online Library, Web.
Schuch, Felipe B., et al. “Exercise as a Treatment for Depression: A Meta-Analysis Adjusting for Publication Bias.” Journal of Psychiatric Research, vol. 77, 2016, pp. 42–51. ScienceDirect, Web.
Stubbs, Brendon, et al. “Dropout from Exercise Randomized Controlled Trials among People with Depression: A Meta-Analysis and Meta Regression.” Journal of Affective Disorders, vol. 190, 2016, pp. 457–66. ScienceDirect, Web.