Conquering Depression and Anxiety Through Exercise

Keith Joshsgard, Author
Keith Joshsgard, Author Prometheus Books $21.98 (305p) ISBN 978-1-59102-192-6
Reviewed on: 05/01/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
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It is generally accepted in the mental-health community that exercise can be an antidote to depression. Nor is it much in dispute that exercise is beneficial to one's overall health. So it's rather odd that Johnsgard, professor emeritus of psychology at San Jose State University, insists on declaring that the connection between good mood and exercise is new. Nonetheless, his volume is a useful consideration of the evidence; it presents experimental studies and case studies that trace the role of exercise in elevating mood, as well as studies comparing the effect of exercise with other forms of treatment, such as talk therapy and medication. Getting into more specific questions, he cites evidence that aerobic and anaerobic exercise are equally effective, even for the most severely depressed. In terms of the relative efficacy of exercise and Zoloft, he offers only one study (and of only this one drug) as evidence that exercise has longer-lasting effects in elevating mood than the drug. While Johnsgard is a proselytizer, he's not dogmatic--he acknowledges that exercise alone is not always enough to deal with depression or anxiety, that it should be used in conjunction with psychotherapy, and that in some cases it just isn't effective. The author examines how to motivate oneself to exercise, how to exercise well, and how to deal with the possible risks of exercise. Covering all the relevant issues makes this a very useful handbook for anyone suffering from depression or anxiety.
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