DALLAS, April 6 (UPI) -- Exercise is a magic pill for many patients with depression and anxiety disorders and should be prescribed more often, U.S. researchers say.
"Exercise has been shown to have tremendous benefits for mental health," Jasper Smits, director of the Anxiety Research and Treatment Program at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, says in a statement. "The more therapists who are trained in exercise therapy, the better off patients will be."
Smits and Michael Otto, a psychology professor at Boston University, analyzed dozens of population-based studies, clinical studies and meta-analytic reviews related to exercise and mental health and found exercise programs reduce depression and anxiety.
"Exercise can fill the gap for people who can't receive traditional therapies because of cost or lack of access, or who don't want to because of the perceived social stigma associated with these treatments," Smits says. "Exercise also can supplement traditional treatments, helping patients become more focused and engaged."
The findings -- based on the therapist guide "Exercise for Mood and Anxiety Disorders" by Smits and Otto -- were presented at the Anxiety Disorder Association of America.