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Aug 01, 2012

Exercise Could Treat Depression in Heart Patients

Exercise has many cardiovascular benefits. This study shows exercise is also highly effective in helping you fight depression.

We've always known that exercise is good for our health. Not only can physical activity reduce risk for heart disease, it can also improve the way we feel by relieving stress and boosting our energy. But did you know that exercise may be just as, if not more, effective than medicine when it comes to treating depression?

Two studies recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and Journal of the American Medical Association tested the use of exercise in heart failure and heart disease patients suffering from depression. The first study, which followed more than 2,300 heart failure patients for more than two years, found that patients participating in regular physical activity had fewer symptoms of depression compared to patients receiving standard treatment. In a second smaller study, researchers assigned patients with heart disease and depression to one of three treatments — exercise, antidepressant medication, or a placebo drug with no active ingredients. After a period of four months, they found that not only was exercise just as effective as medication in treating depression, physical activity helped improve markers of heart health, like heart rate.

These findings are exciting, as patients with chronic conditions are prone to depression, which could have a negative effect on both health outcomes and quality of life. If something as simple as exercise could help treat depression and improve heart health, it's a win-win situation. Not only could exercise help cardiac patients feel better in their day-to-day lives, it could also help minimize symptoms of their condition and improve outcomes. Although we have much more to learn about the connection between depression and heart health, exercise could be a great way to help treat depression in patients with chronic heart conditions and achieve a number of other health benefits.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is depression?
  • Clinical depression is a mood disorder that causes feelings of sadness, loss and anger to interfere with one’s daily life. Although the cause for depression is generally unknown, depression is often treated with antidepressants and/or talk therapy with a professional.

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