I’ve always joked that exercise is the medicine for everything, much to my husband’s displeasure. But now there may be a little more scientific evidence behind this idea. A new report from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology is suggesting that exercise may provide just as much relief as medication for people with heart disease who are also depressed.
To conduct the study, researchers examined 101 heart patients with signs of depression. Participants were asked to exercise for just 90 minutes per week in addition to taking the depression medicine Zoloft, and those who complied saw noticeable improvements compared to those who took a placebo pill instead.
More specifically, 37 participants were assigned three exercise sessions per week, 40 were prescribed Zoloft, and 24 were given a placebo. Over the course of the 4-year study, results were collected every four months to gauge which intervention method was most effective.
Researchers used a scale of 0-68 to monitor depression levels; 0-8 was considered normal, and higher scores equaled more severe depression. Before treatment began, each group’s score averaged 13.5 to 14.5. And by the end of the study, scores decreased by 6.1 points in the Zoloft group, 7.5 points in the exercise group, and 4.5 points in the placebo group. In addition, the exercise group was also less likely to report tiredness and sexual problems.
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