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Study: Combining aerobic and mental training can significantly improve mental and cognitive health

mental_physical_training(Edi­tor’s Note: Hat tip to co-author Tj Shors for bring­ing this fas­ci­nat­ing new study to our atten­tion)

It is wide­ly accept­ed that aer­o­bic exer­cise and med­i­ta­tion train­ing are use­ful behav­ioral ther­a­pies for reme­di­at­ing clin­i­cal symp­toms of depres­sion. How­ev­er, no study to date has assessed the com­bined effects of the two behav­ioral inter­ven­tions. Here, we present data indi­cat­ing that a com­bi­na­tion of Focused Atten­tion (FA) med­i­ta­tion and mod­er­ate-inten­si­ty aer­o­bic exer­cise sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduces symp­toms of depres­sion in indi­vid­u­als with Major Depres­sive Dis­or­der (MDD)…Until recent­ly, the most com­mon and accept­ed line of treat­ment for depres­sion has been psy­chotrop­ic med­ica­tions, most notably the selec­tive sero­tonin reup­take inhibitors and mood sta­bi­liz­ers. How­ev­er, recent stud­ies indi­cate that these drugs may not be as effec­tive as once thought and even when they are, relapse often occurs. Var­i­ous forms of psy­chother­a­py, such as cog­ni­tive behav­ioral ther­a­py, can be effi­ca­cious but require con­sid­er­able time and com­mit­ment on the part of the patient, not to men­tion trained pro­fes­sion­als to insti­tute. There are two behav­ioral ther­a­pies, aer­o­bic exer­cise and med­i­ta­tion, which have demon­strat­ed ben­e­fits for indi­vid­u­als suf­fer­ing with depres­sion, are not accom­pa­nied by pro­found side effects and can be prac­ticed across the lifes­pan. Here, we pro­vide evi­dence that demon­strates the effec­tive­ness of a com­bined behav­ioral approach in improv­ing men­tal and cog­ni­tive health out­comes in indi­vid­u­als with MDD and oth­er­wise healthy indi­vid­u­als.”

Study: MAP train­ing: com­bin­ing med­i­ta­tion and aer­o­bic exer­cise reduces depres­sion and rumi­na­tion while enhanc­ing syn­chro­nized brain activ­i­ty (Trans­la­tion­al Psy­chi­a­try)

  • Abstract: Men­tal and phys­i­cal (MAP) train­ing is a nov­el clin­i­cal inter­ven­tion that com­bines men­tal train­ing through med­i­ta­tion and phys­i­cal train­ing through aer­o­bic exer­cise. The inter­ven­tion was trans­lat­ed from neu­ro­sci­en­tif­ic stud­ies indi­cat­ing that MAP train­ing increas­es neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis in the adult brain. Each ses­sion con­sist­ed of 30?min of focused-atten­tion (FA) med­i­ta­tion and 30min of mod­er­ate-inten­si­ty aer­o­bic exer­cise. Fifty-two par­tic­i­pants com­plet­ed the 8‑week inter­ven­tion, which con­sist­ed of two ses­sions per week. Fol­low­ing the inter­ven­tion, indi­vid­u­als with major depres­sive dis­or­der (MDD; n=22) report­ed sig­nif­i­cant­ly less depres­sive symp­toms and rumi­na­tive thoughts. Typ­i­cal healthy indi­vid­u­als (n=30) also report­ed less depres­sive symp­toms at fol­low-up. Behav­ioral and event-relat­ed poten­tial indices of cog­ni­tive con­trol were col­lect­ed at base­line and fol­low-up dur­ing a mod­i­fied flanker task. Fol­low­ing MAP train­ing, N2 and P3 com­po­nent ampli­tudes increased rel­a­tive to base­line, espe­cial­ly among indi­vid­u­als with MDD. These data indi­cate enhanced neur­al respons­es dur­ing the detec­tion and res­o­lu­tion of con­flict­ing stim­uli. Although pre­vi­ous research has sup­port­ed the indi­vid­ual ben­e­fi­cial effects of aer­o­bic exer­cise and med­i­ta­tion for depres­sion, these find­ings indi­cate that a com­bi­na­tion of the two may be par­tic­u­lar­ly effec­tive in increas­ing cog­ni­tive con­trol process­es and decreas­ing rumi­na­tive thought pat­terns.

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Categories: Cognitive Neuroscience, Education & Lifelong Learning, Health & Wellness

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