Scientists have found in a recent study running is equally effective in treating depression as taking medicines as the findings also underlined greater benefits of physical activity than antidepressants.
The research also found that people do not generally go for running but opt for medication.
After analysing data from 140 patients, the researchers revealed that despite equal benefits of running and medications, running improves health and antidepressants adversely impact the human body over time.
Researchers noted that members who chose antidepressants were slightly more depressed than the members of the group that chose to take running.
Dr Penninx said: “This study gave anxious and depressed people a real-life choice, medication or exercise. Interestingly, the majority opted for exercise, which led to the numbers in the running group being larger than in the medication group.”
For those on medications, healthcare professionals suggest people timely intake of medicines, which does not impact daily behaviours.
Nevertheless, running, or exercise was found to solve the issue of a sedentary routine often found in depressed patients who are generally encouraged to go outside, set personal goals, improve their fitness, and participate in a group activity.
Experts also revealed that fewer people adhered to physical activity than in the antidepressant group, despite initially choosing running over antidepressants.
In the end, half of the participants in both groups showed improvement in depression and anxiety, and the running group also reported improvement in physical health.
People in the medication group showed slight adverse metabolic markers, according to the study.
“Antidepressants generally had a worse impact on body weight, heart rate variability, and blood pressure, whereas running therapy led to improved effects on general fitness and heart rate for instance,” Dr Penninx said.
“Telling patients to go run is not enough. Changing physical activity behaviour will require adequate supervision and encouragement as we did by implementing exercise therapy in a mental health care institution,” Dr Pennix added.