Benefits of Physical Fitness

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Benefits of Physical Fitness

The fact that exercise is associated with physical health benefits and fitness gains
(depressed patients have poor physical health and low physical fitness), as well as with
psychological benefits is an important argument for the incorporation of psychomotor therapy
into treatment programs for depressed patients [3-9]. In our sample group, participation in
psychomotor therapy resulted in an improvement of cardio-respiratory fitness (13.59%
increase in physical work capacity) as well as in muscular strength.

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Exercise as Health Promotion in the General Population

According to a report of the World Health Organization , at least 60% of the global
population fails to achieve the minimum recommendation for health-related physical fitness
(i.e., 30 minutes moderate intensity physical activity daily). Regular physical exercise is
significantly less common in women than in men and significantly less among those older
than 44. The relationship between lack of regular physical activity and depression in both
middle-aged and older women has been the subject of two prospective cohort studies. The
study of Brown [45] examined the dose-response relationship between self-reported physical
activity and depressive symptoms in a cohort of 9.207 middle-aged women, corrected for pre-
existing psychological and physical health problems. The data suggested that there is a clear
dose-response relationship between increasing physical activity and decreasing depressive
symptoms, independent of pre-existing physical and psychological health. Lee and Russel
reported on the longitudinal effects of physical activity and psychological well-being
among older Australian women. Overall, women who had become physically active over a 3
year interval had positive changes in psychological well-being, while the opposite was true in
those who had become less active. Due to the relationships between physical activity,
physical fitness, and treatment and prevention of depression and co-morbid diseases (i.e.
cardiovascular disease, diabetes and osteoporosis) the promotion of physical activity may be a
feasible physical and mental health promotion strategy. A variety of community interventions
exist that are able to increase physical activity in the general population. The effectiveness of
such interventions also needs to be evaluated in terms of preventing depression.

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