Recent research by the American Psychological Association has found that gym class may curb depression among middle school students, along with recess. Having gym and recess available may be effective in staving off depression throughout adolescence.
Among teens, depression is the third leading cause of death. It is also the number one leading cause of disability in adolescents. A significant association was found between the onset of depression in the sixth grade and the occurrence of depression throughout the teen years.
“Depression that begins at this time can lead to chronic or recurring depression in later years,” Camilo Ruggero, APA researcher, told Education News. “Fitness programs are one way to help prevent depression in middle schoolers, but schools should also use other interventions, such as one-on-one or group therapy, that more directly address symptom treatment among depressed adolescents.”
Researchers also found that structured cardiovascular exercise beginning in sixth grade decreases depression levels for teen, especially in girls.
Rusty Gregory, a wellness coach involved in the study, told Daily RX., “We’ve known for a while now that exercise, especially cardiovascular exercise, generates the production of endorphins. These are chemicals that bind to receptors in the brain to help produce positive, pain-reducing feelings.”
Those pain-relieving side effects are found just as effective for relieving mental pain and stress as they do their physical counterparts.
The Georgetown study does not stand alone in its findings. A study from the Newcastle University in the U.K. found similar results in 2013.
“Exercise has so many advantages as a therapy: It is non-drug, has few side effects and has countless other health benefits. But it has never been tested in youth as treatment for depression, before now” study author Robin Callister, of the University of Newcastle, said in a Society for Neuroscience news release.