The Effects of Physical Fitness on Depression on Female Adolescents

A growing epidemic in America is depression. Physicians are able to prescribe drugs to help with the symptoms of depression, but other therapeutic methods have been studied and show great results in recovery. Therapeutic Physical Fitness has shown to reduce depression and anxiety. Ihas been confirmed through experiments that physical exercise can be as effective as antidepressant drugs and some cases suggest that it better prevents symptom recurrence.

According to a study published in the European Journal of Public Health in August 2005, Effects of physical exercise on depression neuron doctrine stress hormones and physiological fitness in adolescent females with depressive symptoms, physical exercise was shown to reduce both physiological and psychological indicators of mild to moderate depression in adolescent females. 1 A group of researchers in Thailand worked with a group of 49 adolescent female volunteers. Approximately half of the women were in a control group for the first part of the study.

The women participants all showed symptoms of mild-to-moderate sub clinical depression. The control group of subjects continued their regular daily routines for eight weeks. While the other half of the subjects engaged in group jogging for five 50 minute sessions per week. The results in this study showed great psychological improvement in depression symptoms. The participants were measured by a survey known as the CES-D scale. Theadolescents in the control group (group A) showed no improvement on this scale in the first eight weeks.

The adolescents who participated in daily exercise 5 times a week (group B) showed to drop from approximately 21 points down to approximately 13 points on the CES-D depression rating scale. Perhaps even more interesting after the eight weeks of exercise, group B went back into their regular routine of lack of exercise for an additional eight weeks and their scores on the CES-D scale inclined back up to approximately 19 points. This further supports the evidence that it was the exercise that caused improvement in depression symptoms . In addition to studying the psychological impact of physical

exercise on depression, researchers examined the physiological impact of exercise on the adolescent females. Urine samples were collected from all participants at the beginning of the study. After the first eight weeks urine samples were taken again for both groups. Group B participants had decreased levels of two stress hormones – cortisol and epinephrine – in their urine samples taken after participating in group jogging for eight weeks. While Group A urine samples stayed at the same level of stress hormones. Depressive persons tend to have a lower amount of physical activity because of their lack of motivation.

Depression is found in a variety of people, but is especially prevalent among adolescents . But these findings would support us to conclude that physical fitness is therapeutic psychologically and physiologically in treating depression. Prescribing an appropriate regiment of exercise is shown in this study to decrease symptoms of depression in adolescent females. This author wonders if the results in this study are effective because of the amount of physical exercise that took place in the lives of the volunteer subjects or if the aspect of jogging in a group simply helped the depressed women.

Jogging five times a week with a group of women in the same age range, who all share the same problem, might have affected the women socially. This amount of social interaction would probably have great psychological effects on a depressed patient. This author also wonders if physical fitness would effect depression in other age groups or in the opposite sex. Females tend to be more social. Would this study of social interacting five times a week only have positive effects for females?

A large number of adolescents show depressive symptoms, it seems to be typical. So, would older adult decrease symptoms of depression as well as an adolescent? In conclusion, the present results demonstrate that a group-based physical fitness program, which can increase not only physical activity but social interaction, improves physiological fitness levels as well as the depressive state and the psychophysical stress state. Therefore, regular physical exercise can benefit physiological and psychological wellbeing in adolescent women with symptoms of depression.

Such promising results should warrant further research as well as proposals for funding of physical education in high schools through the students’ senior year. In addition, mental health agencies that serve adolescent females should include in their lists of community resources gyms, fitness centers, exercise groups and other similar offerings to further support their clients in lessening depression symptoms. 1 Nobuyuki Miyai, PhD, “Effects of physical exercise on depression, neuroendocrine stress hormones and physiological fitness in adolescent females with depressive symptoms”, European Journal of Public Health, June 7, 2005