Back when we opened our doors in June of 2011, we were stating that exercise was "on par" with counseling and medications as a form of mental health treatment. Our statements were based on the already large body of research that existed on exercise as a form of mental health treatment. Even back then we knew, as Dr. John Ratey of Harvard University and author of the book "Spark" put it, "Exercise is simply one of the best treatments we have for most psychiatric problems".
But a new research study recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine pushes the idea even further. The study, conducted by researchers from the University of South Wales, reviewed more than 1000 pieces of research and reported that their findings suggest that physical exercise is 1.5 times more effective than medications or counseling in treating depression and anxiety.
Importantly, they found that that the higher the intensity of exercise, the greater the mental health benefits. Their findings also show that a key difference maker is heart rate, so if a person is exercising, they should be trying to keep their heart rate within the Target Heart Rate zone. While any type of movement or exercise is important, when it comes to the incredible benefits it offers our mental health, we do need to push ourselves a little bit.
Again I will end this by saying that we, collectively, need to change our focus regarding WHY we exercise. We must move away from being solely focused on the physical health benefits, and really begin to focus our attention on how exercise makes us feel. Because, as the research continues to prove, there appears to be no better thing we can do to help us improve or maintain our mental health.