Depressed Denied Exercise Help and Advice from NHS

The BBC reports today that people suffering from depression in the UK are still being denied exercise on prescription (in the form of free exercise classes and tuition) even though a report was published in 2004 detailing how exercise helps people cope with depression. This new announcement coincides with Stephen Fry’s recent comment that his new exercise and healthy eating regime has allowed him to cope better with his depression than he has in years.

The problem is that even many GP’s would like to prescribe exercise for their patients, only 50% of GP’s actually have a referrals list of clubs and personal trainers for their area.


It is estimated that 1 in 6 people actually suffer from depression, and this is becoming more evident as the economic crisis leads to more unemployment, anxiety and stress. Doctors are currently prescribing antidepressants at record levels, with prescriptions doubling in the last decade. However, studies have shown that for mild to moderate depression, exercise is actually as effective as anti-depressants, and there are no side effects. In fact, there are other positive effects on health and general well-being.

The fact is that studies have shown that people suffering from depression respond very well to exercise. In addition to this, a study reported in 2007 showed that exercising outdoors has even greater psychological benefits.

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence has recommended that people suffering from depression should exercise 3 or 4 times a week for 45-60 minutes each time, to help cope with depression. Coincidently, this pretty much matches advice from the government regarding exercise to help to maintain a healthy weight. The general rule should really apply to everyone.

MotleyHealth’s Radical Idea

As the numerous studies have shown that exercise helps reduce mental health problems, control obesity and allow people to remain active for longer, all of which remove a massive burdon on the NHS and other health systems around the world, governments should provide more exercise incentives. Some health insurance companies, such as PruHealth, offer incentives in the form of discounted health cover to those that attend health clubs and gyms. Maybe it is time for governments to offer tax incentives to people to lose weight and get active. If you agree, post here, and we can start a petition to give healthier people tax breaks!

Source: BBC Health News

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  1 comment for “Depressed Denied Exercise Help and Advice from NHS

  1. Sam
    September 27, 2009 at 6:36 am

    wow thats intense

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