At the 61st Annual Conference of the Canadian Psychiatric Association, Dr. Christopher Willer, a senior psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto, made a presentation on exercise as an effective (but currently underused) treatment adjunct for mental illness.
During his symposium, Dr. Willer presented emerging research supporting the view that exercise can play an important, adjunctive role in the treatment of depression and even schizophrenia, as well as decrease the metabolic effects related to some antidepressant and antipsychotic medication.
Notwithstanding the mental health benefits, Dr. Willer noted that the physical benefits of exercise alone are well documented and can offset cardiovascular risk factors associated with some psychiatric medications. Exercise also helps to prevent obesity, a challenge for many people with mental illness, and helps to improve cognition and affective problems.
While some people may be concerned that exercise could bring on a panic attack, the literature does not support this view. In fact, studies are suggesting that the opposite is true – 20 minutes of exercise daily can moderate a person’s anxiety.
To read the Medscape coverage of Dr. Willer’s presentation, go towww.medscape.com.