Physical Activity Has a Two-Fold Effect on Those with Depression

Senior woman sitting on the floor on exercise mat in front of laptop and training at homeFor those with depression, physical activity can not only lighten their mood but also give the brain the jolt it needs for daily learning processes. The dual beneficial effect of physical activity was confirmed by a study at the University Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB).

This study was able to show how physical activity can be beneficial in treating and preventing illnesses such as depression while also increasing the brain’s ability to change. This change is necessary for adaptation and learning processes.


To investigate the effect of physical activity, researchers looked at 41 people who were undergoing depression treatment in a hospital. Each participant was assigned to one of two groups.
The first group completed a three-week exercise program which was developed by the sports science team from the university. This exercise program contained fun elements and did not rely on competition or testing, but instead revolved around teamwork from the participants. This program was designed to promote motivation and social togetherness while breaking down the fear of negative experiences and challenges that often come with physical activity.

The second group took part in a controlled program with no physical activity.

Researchers collected information on the severity of the depressive symptoms such as lack of motivation, negative feelings, and a loss of drive and interest from each participant before and after the program. The neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to change, was also measured with the help of transcranial magnetic stimulation.

The study was able to show that the brain’s ability to change is lower in people with depression than in healthy people. Those who were in the program with physical activity showed a significant increase in changes in the brain and achieved the same values as healthy people. The depressive symptoms also decreased in this group.

The Effect of Physical Activity


“The more the ability to change increased, the more clearly the clinical symptoms decreased,” says Karin Rosenkranz, study leader. This shows that physical activity has an effect on symptoms and the brain’s ability to change. We cannot say to what extent the change in symptoms and the brain’s ability to change are causally linked based on this data.

It is known that physical activity does the brain good, as it, for instance, promotes the formation of neuron connections. This could certainly also play a role here.”

Although more research is needed to fully understand the link between physical activity and the changes noted in the brain, this study helps to show the benefit of daily exercise.

Author Bio

Sarah began her interest in nutritional healing at an early age. After going through health problems and becoming frustrated with the conventional ways doctors wanted to treat her illness (which were not working), she took it upon herself to find alternative treatments. This led her to revolutionize her own diet to help her get healthier and tackle her health problems. She began treating her illness by living a more balanced lifestyle through healthy food choices, exercise and other alternative medicine such as meditation. This total positive lifestyle change led her to earn a diploma in Nutritional Therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, England. Today, Sarah enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. Also, passionate about following her dreams in life, Sarah moved to France and lived in Paris for over 5 years where she earned a certification in beadwork and embroidery from Lesage (an atelier owned by Chanel). She then went on to be a familiar face sitting front row and reporting from Paris Fashion Week. Sarah continues to practice some of the cultural ways of life she learned while in Europe. They enjoy their food, and take the time to relax and enjoy many of life’s little moments. These are life lessons she is glad to have brought back home with her.