The Unexamined Life

Women Who Exercise Still More At Risk Of Depression Than Men

Depression is a common condition and is the number one cause of disability worldwide. Studies have found that exercise prevents depression, but a recent one claims that not everyone benefits from such activity.

The recent study published in the Journal of American College Health contested that exercise is an effective treatment for all women. Researchers from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor claimed exercise reduces the risk of depression but such manifestation differs for men and women. They tested whether exercise can alleviate depression caused by disturbed sleep, but they only found it effective in male participants.

The findings were contradictory to previous research. According to the principal investigator Weiyun Chen, few women in the study participated in the high-intensity exercise and their conditions did not improve after the test.

The previous study used in assessing the effects of exercise on depression showed that low-to-moderate intensity workouts may be an effective solution for depression. Vigorous physical activity done frequently also resulted in the growth of nerve cells.

“In people who are depressed, neuroscientists have noticed that the hippocampus in the brain – the region that helps regulate mood – is smaller,” Assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School Dr. Michael Craig Miller said via Harvard Health Publishing. “Exercise supports nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, improving nerve cell connections, which helps relieve depression.”

Chen and the researchers, however, negated the previous study. Their study indicated that neither low- and high-intensity exercise benefited women suffering from depression. They found that 43 percent of the female subjects continued to portray depressive symptoms after the workout while 337 males showed the same results.

There are, however, similarities between the two sexes. The authors were surprised that most of the participants did not show depression symptoms, only those who developed stress due to lack of sleep did.

The researches then concluded that their findings will help aid further research on assessing the correlation of exercise, depression and sleep. Those who were depressed manifested a lack of interest to exercise and were prone to experience disturbed sleep. Most of them were female. Researchers also noted that further studies are required to strengthen their claims.