Study finds exercise can reduce depression

UVM researchers are studying ways to decrease suicide rates the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s latest Fatal Injury Report.

Students play pickup basketball outside of Harris Millis residential hall Oct. 2. UVM researchers are researching methods of decreasing suicide rates, including increased exercise.  KAT WAKS/ The Veromont Cynic
Students play pickup basketball outside of Harris Millis residential hall Oct. 2. UVM researchers are researching methods of decreasing suicide rates, including increased exercise. KAT WAKS/ The Veromont Cynic

Jeremy Sibold, associate professor and chair of the department of rehabilitation and movement science at UVM, along with three other UVM faculty members, may be offering a way to change this statistic.  

Their research is explained in their report “Physical Activity, Sadness, and Suicidality in Bullied U.S. Adolescents,”  printed Oct. 1 in the Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

“The literature is clear, exercise has these profound positive effects on mental health regardless of age, gender and fitness,” Sibold said.

Physical activity was shown to lower the number of students who felt sad, had suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide in the previous 12 months, according to the study.

For a year and a half, the researchers worked to find a link between physical activity and the amount of suicidal thoughts and actions students between ninth and 12th grade had.

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 3.27.41 PM“I very much agree with their research and believe that exercise has a significantly positive effect on an individual,” senior Dan Feldman said.

Sibold said he worked with three other UVM faculty members, Erika Edwards, a research assistant professor in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, Dianna Murray-Close, associate professor in psychology and psychiatry professor James J. Hudziak.

“This is just another example of where we could be using exercise as a cost-effective and largely safe tool for the intervention and prevention of mental health issues,” Sibold said.Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 3.28.24 PM

Although the study focuses on younger people, Sibold and his colleagues agree their conclusions could apply to other age groups, including UVM students.

“After a stressful day, a long run is a source of relief and rejuvenation for me,” first-year Megan Tammaro said.