“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.”
- 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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