I was both saddened and confused to read recently that research by the Universities of Bristol and Exeter, and funded by the Department of Health had proved that exercise does not help depression.

This is just such a stupid piece of research and an example of analysis gone so very wrong. The fact that all the patients who took part in the trial still have depression is not useful. What they fail to realise is that for most, exercise helps. Even if it’s just a little bit that can mean a lot to someones quality of life.

We’re missing the point. Scientists can’t cure depression. No one can. Depression in its most toxic form can be life threatening and can lead to people taking their own lives. It also takes on milder forms of which I have suffered in the past. I’ve never had suicidal thoughts but I’ve gone weeks with no thoughts at all. Nothing. Empty head. Nada. Kaput. Zilch. I know I will never quite be rid of this ‘weakness’ but I also know I can fight it with every means I have available. Exercise is just one of them but it’s pretty effective and free.

I find it hard to explain this to others and if you knew me you would know that I try to cram as much into my life as is humanly possible. I am always positive, always have time for others, love life, embrace opportunities and am continuallly amazed by others and by this world we live in. Herein could lie the problem. I don’t always know when to stop, how to say NO or how to slow down, but I am learning the signals and triggers.

Doctors can treat depression but they can’t cure it. So if I can keep mine at bay by eating healthily, avoiding allergens and getting plenty of exercise, surely that’s better than stuffing myself with anti-depressants? or am I missing the point?

It’s like saying gastric bands don’t help obesity. Sometimes the don’t work, but they don’t work when the person can’t fight the urge to eat and continues to overeat. They do help and do work when used to aid the battle from obesity back to a healthy weight. They don’t work on their own without a lot of hard work and positive thinking and, oh yeah, exercise!

Do you know what helps me the most out of everything else I’ve tried with my depression? Yup. You guessed it. Exercise!

And I’m not talking marathon runs and pumping iron at the gym, though building up to this regularly is my main goal. OK, not marathons… I’m talking about a walk in the countryside. Half an hour of gardening. Going into town and just sitting in a cafe after a stroll around. These may not seem like huge goals to many, but just to get out into humanity, back to nature and to start to get that heart pumping again is so renewing and refreshing to me.

When I can get a regular run in and walk in the hills near where I live my days are full of sunshine and happiness. Well, not always full of sunshine, but starting the day with a run is such a tonic.

It’s not always easy taking that step, and the excuses to stay in and not go for a run are always nagging away at the back of my mind. Sometimes I don’t. I just can’t. I feel nauseous with the thought of it. So to read an article that just made me want to cry, well, I just had to have a rant.

You can read the article, “Depression: Exercise advice questioned when added to standard treatments”

Another far more positive article commenting on this research which made me see I’m not the only who disagrees vehemently with this research, “Exercise is no panacea for depression but it keeps it at bay.”

What do you think? Can exercise help alleviate depression? I know damn well it can so I say to the Scientist – Pah! Rubbish. Spend your money on more worthwhile research. Exercise is the one thing that’s helped me fight depression, eczema, asthma and allergies. All of these things are so much better when exercise is part of my life. When things are bad, exercise withers and they all come back.

Exercise and writing are the two main things that help me, oh and of course, a lot of help from some very kind, lovely and understanding friends.


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