Exercise Should Be Prescribed for Depression

SCW FitnessSCW Blog

The US is facing a mental health crisis like never before. Since 1999, suicide rates have increased 35 percent; approximately 8 million deaths each year are attributable to mental disorders; and at any given time, 18% of adults in the U.S. are living with mental illness. Mental health issues skyrocketed among the general public during the pandemic. In addition to the staggering numbers, access to mental health care is limited, and almost exclusively focused on medication, psychotherapy, and hospitalization. The John W. Brick Mental Health Foundation was established to expand our approaches to mental and emotional well-being, including exercise, nutrition and mind-body practices. But is there an evidence-base for these approaches?

Move Your Mental Health™ (https://www.johnwbrickfoundation.org/move-your-mental-health-report/), written by the JWB Foundation science team, answers this question with a resounding yes, particularly where exercise is concerned. The report and accompanying online interactive data visualization synthesize thirty years of scientific studies linking physical activity to mental well-being and provides recommendations on how to incorporate these results into a well-rounded treatment plan. Most importantly, the report recommends that for people with depression, exercise should be prescribed and monitored for the first 12 weeks, just as physical therapy would be for an injury.

Dr. Richard Carmona, 17th Surgeon General of the United States, said: “The Brick Foundation has done a tremendous job of synthesizing the science of exercise and mental health. Essential reading for mental health professionals and everyone in the wellness industry.” Dr. Mimi Guarneri, President of the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine, said: “The JWB Mental Health Foundation has made a groundbreaking contribution to expanding our approaches to mental healthcare and makes 30 years of research on movement and mental health accessible to guide families and professionals in incorporating physical activity into fostering mental and emotional wellbeing.”

Victor and Lynne Brick, who own over 75 Planet Fitness health clubs, founded the organization in honor of Victor’s brother, who suffered from and eventually died from complications of schizophrenia. Through research, programs and collaboration, the John W. Brick Foundation aims to give individuals struggling with mental health issues the possibility of enjoying a better life.

More people are talking about their mental health journeys than ever before. Accompanying this reduced stigma, exercise, nutrition and mind-body disciplines are empowering people with a broad array of evidence-based approaches to support their mental and emotional well-being.

To learn more about the John W. Brick Mental Health Foundation, visit their website and find out how you can make a difference in someone’s life and help change the way the world treats mental health.