Exercise fights depression and weight loss, and one study after another confirms the strong tie between exercise and alleviation of depression symptoms.

A Southern Methodist University study shows that exercise is a potent treatment for depression and anxiety.

Before you start a workout program, the study authors recommend a health assessment to clear the patient for physical activity.

The general recommendations for exercise apply to depressed but apparently healthy people.

This means 150 minutes weekly of moderate-intensity exercise, or, 75 minutes of vigorous exertion.

But which will work better for depression, and weight loss: 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes of rigorous exercise a week?

Go for the 75 minutes, hands down. Intense exercise causes hormonal changes in the body that trigger weight loss in the form of fat lost, while keeping valuable muscle tissue intact.

Moderate level workouts fail to do this. Intense exercise that elicits the best hormonal response is the kind called high intensity interval training, as well as a kind of exercise called burst training.

A 2002 issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology reports that high intensity training, involving sprints, produced 96 percent more human growth hormone when compared to slower long duration jogging.

Growth hormone release creates breakdown of fat, which means weight loss.

Other benefits include increased energy, increased libido and improved sleep, and these improvements will go a long way in alleviating symptoms of depression.

People with depression, including depression caused by weight loss struggles, can begin by walking…the anaerobic way, for maximum weight loss. However, include strength training in your regimen. Don’t just do cardio.

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Strength training, like cardio (walking, running, cycling) can be done intensely. Intense exercise helps alleviate depression simply because it creates a feeling of accomplishment.

You’ll be much more amazed at yourself after doing high intensity interval training as opposed to mere, boring long duration cardio like prolonged boring pedaling on an elliptical machine or endless laps walking around the block.

Another type of exercise that will fight depression and encourage weight loss is the martial arts.

Martial arts, by their nature, involve bouts of intense training, or burst-style training.

Plus, the sense of accomplishment will be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced; I’ve trained in the martial arts for years, and it just feels so great developing skills in this discipline. And weight loss will be a sure result, and this of course will help relieve your depression, as you become fitter.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
Source: Southern Methodist University (2010, April 6). Mental health providers should prescribe exercise more often for depression, anxiety, research suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 6, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com¬ /releases/2010/04/100405122311.htm