Exercise is good for depression and physical illness


Exercise can have an enormous impact on your mood. In fact, it is thought that  exercise is beneficial enough to be recommended as an intervention in combination with other treatment.

But is exercise as effective for depressive symptoms when you also have a physical illness?

A review published recently in Frontiers in Psychiatry showed that exercise improved both the depressive symptoms and the underlying physical condition for a range of physical illnesses including:

Breast cancer
Prostate cancer
Cardiovascular disease
Coronary heart disease
Heart failure
Multiple sclerosis
Parkinson’s disease
Ankylosing spondylitis
Traumatic brain injury
Acute leukemia
Lupus erythematodes

Previously, studies have  shown that the beneficial effects of exercise are shown to be similar to treatment with medication up to one year. This means that exercise can be considered as a treatment option without the common side-effects of psychotropic medication.

Exercise helps chronic depression by increasing serotonin (which helps your brain regulate mood, sleep and appetite) or brain-derived neurotrophic factor (which helps neurons to grow) and increases your level of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters.

So exercise therapy could be a vital component of your treatment plan. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist.

Does exercise help you with depression?

Tell us what you think in the comments below.


1.         Daley A. Exercise and Depression: A Review of Reviews. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings 2008;15:140.

2.         Hoffman BM BM, Craighead WE, Sherwood A, Doraiswamy PM, Coons MJ, . Exercise and pharmacotherapy in patients with major depression: one-year follow-up of the SMILE study. Psychosomatic Medicine 2011; 73:127–33.

3.         Roeh A, Kirchner SK, Malchow B, et al. Depression in somatic disorders: is there a beneficial effect of exercise? Frontiers in Psychiatry 2019;10.

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