Meditation and aerobic exercise done together helps reduce depression, according to a new study by Rutgers University, the American institution said on its website on Wednesday.
The study, ‘MAP training: combining meditation and aerobic exercise reduces depression and rumination while enhancing synchronized brain activity’, found that the mind and body combination – done twice a week for only two months – reduced the symptoms for a group of students by 40 percent.
Assistant professor Brandon Alderman and professor Tracey Shors discovered that a combination of mental and physical training (MAP) enabled students with major depressive disorder not to
let problems or negative thoughts overwhelm them.
The men and women in the Rutgers study who completed the eight-week program – 22 suffering with depression and 30 mentally healthy students – reported fewer depressive symptoms
and said they did not spend as much time worrying about negative situations taking place in their lives as they did before the study began.
This group also provided MAP training to young mothers who had been homeless but were living at a residential treatment facility when they began the study.
The women involved in the research exhibited severe depressive symptoms and elevated anxiety levels at the beginning. But at the end of the eight weeks, they too, reported that their
depression and anxiety had eased, they felt more motivated, and they were able to focus more positively on their lives.
Researchers at Rutgers University say those who participated in the study began with 30 minutes of focused attention meditation followed by 30 minutes of aerobic exercise.
They were told that if their thoughts drifted to the past or the future they should refocus on their breathing – enabling those with depression to accept moment-to-moment changes in attention.
The paper was published on February 2 in the journal Translational Psychiatry.