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Withdrawal From Exercise Can Lead To Depression
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Health professionals should pay attention to negative mood swings

Withdrawal from regular moderate physical activity programs for even two weeks can contribute to feelings of depression and fatigue, according to research presented today at the 52nd American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Annual Meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

A new study found that when individuals who engaged in regular moderate physical activity stopped exercising for even one week, they experienced negative mood changes, especially feelings of fatigue, loss of vigor, and increased tension. After withdrawal from exercise for two weeks, participants felt further fatigued and experienced symptoms of depression and guilt. In addition, decreases in fitness levels were observed after two weeks of no exercise. Those who began the study with highest levels of fitness experienced the greatest loss of fitness level and the greatest feelings of depression.

The study involved 40 adults age 18 to 45. Researchers assigned participants into one of two groups. One group discontinued physical activity programs for two weeks, while the other group continued to exercise as they normally would. Those in the study were evaluated at the beginning of the study, after one week, and again after two weeks.

"After one week we began to see changes, and after two weeks we noted that those who had stopped exercising had significantly higher negative mood scores compared to those who continued with their regular exercise program," said Ali A. Berlin, M.S., principal investigator of the study.
The participants were evaluated using the Profile of Mood States (POMS), a standard method of assessing mood state. Fitness levels were measured using a bicycle ergometry test. As those in the study experienced more loss of fitness, they experienced more loss in vigor, and felt greater depressive symptoms. Results were similar among men and women.

"We were not looking at elite athletes; the study participants were people who are regularly active at a moderate level - yet we were able to measure negative results from withdrawal of exercise in just two weeks," explains Berlin. "What this tells us is that any interruption in a regular fitness routine can have a negative. Given that many adults stop their regular exercise programs for short periods of time due to things such as sports injury or illness, health care professionals need to be aware that as they are treating the injury or illness, the patient may also experience depressive symptoms from exercise withdrawal."

She also noted that individual who stop their regular outdoor exercising routine due to inclement weather, or time constraints should find an activity to maintain their fitness level, and also continue to get the psychological benefits of regular exercise. "If someone is a regular jogger or bicyclist, and find they cannot do the activity for a short time, they need to do something else like walking until they can resume their preferred activity......"

Berlin and her team hope to do further research to identify specific characteristics that may make some individuals more susceptible than others to mood swings related to exercise withdrawal. They hope this information will enable health care providers to better identify people likely to experience feelings of depression as a result of exercise withdrawal, and be better equipped to address this aspect of patient care.

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Courtesy: www.acsm.org
The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. ACSMM's more than 20,000 international, national, and regional members are dedicated to promoting and integrating scientific research, education and practical applications of sports medicine and exercise science to maintain and enhance physical performance, fitness, health, and quality of life.
 
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