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Study Shows Meditation Before Running as Effective Treatment for Depression

The New York Times highlighted a study in Translational Psychiatry that found that individuals diagnosed with depression experienced a decrease in symptomology as well as beneficial changes in brain structure when coupling meditation with running. 52 participants diagnosed with depression, both men and women, underwent an 8 week experiment in which they were required to meditate and exercise twice a week. Participants were required to meditate for 20 minutes with specific instruction, and then partake in 10 minutes of walking meditation, which was followed by 30 minutes of aerobic activity.

Scientists, in knowing the beneficial effects of both meditation and exercise on reducing symptoms of depression, were curious to couple the two to see whether there would be an even stronger impact on the outcome of depression. The study found that indeed, the combined effects of both meditation and running created an astounding decrease in symptoms of depression by 40% with participants stating that they feel a reduction in the amount of time spent ruminating. After the 2 months, the brain structures of the prefrontal cortex of the participants was almost identical to those of individuals not diagnosed with depression. Through the 8 week experiment, meditation and exercise enabled participants to concentrate better which enabled a reduction in their experience of rumination. Amazing findings.

The following is the conclusion of the findings, copied and pasted from Translational Psychiatry.

"Until recently, the most common and accepted line of treatment for depression has been psychotropic medications, most notably the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and mood stabilizers. However, recent studies indicate that these drugs may not be as effective as once thought and even when they are, relapse often occurs.102, 103, 104 Various forms of psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, can be efficacious but require considerable time and commitment on the part of the patient, not to mention trained professionals to institute. There are two behavioral therapies, aerobic exercise and meditation, which have demonstrated benefits for individuals suffering with depression, are not accompanied by profound side effects and can be practiced across the lifespan. Here, we provide evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of a combined behavioral approach in improving mental and cognitive health outcomes in individuals with MDD and otherwise healthy individuals.

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