| Apr 24, 2009
When researchers at Italy's University of Cagliari divided women who were taking prescription antidepressants into two groups-one that worked out together for an hour twice a week and one that did no exercise-only the active women showed significant improvements in their symptoms. It's proven that working up a sweat can help you fight the blues in the short term, but this study suggests it may be an effective long-term treatment for depression, especially when you work out in addition to taking drugs and getting therapy. "Exercise decreases levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increases the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, both of which help alleviate depressive symptoms," says Mauro Carta, M.D., one of the study's authors. "The regular social contact the classes provided may also help."