UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists are suggesting that people with depression who are having difficulty finding relief from drug treatment alone should give moderate to intense exercise a try. The results can be as effective as taking a second medication, according to the scientists.

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Over the course of four years, researchers studied men and women between the ages of 18 and 70 whose average length of depression was seven years, according to a UT press release. The groups were prescribed different exercise levels at different intensities. Researchers found that 30 percent of patients, whether using treadmills or cycling, “achieved full remission” from their depression, while another 20 percent had “significant displayed improvement.”

The study concluded that higher rates of exercise were more effective in combating depression in men, while women with a family history of depression responded best to exercise of moderate intensity. But researchers found that higher-intensity exercises were more effective for women without a family history of the disease.

“Many people who start on an antidepressant medication feel better after they begin treatment, but they still don’t feel completely well or as good as they did before they became depressed,” said researcher Madhukar Trivedi. “This study shows that exercise can be as effective as adding another medication. Many people would rather use exercise than add another drug, particularly as exercise has a proven positive effect on a person’s overall health and well-being.”