Meditation Plus Running a Possible Treatment for Depression


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A recent study at Rutgers University in New Jersey showed that an eight-week program consisting of 30 minutes of focused-attention meditation and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise twice a week reduced depressive symptoms in participants.

MAP, or “mental and physical” 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.

Following the intervention, which consisted of 52 participants, individuals with major depressive disorder reported significantly less depressive symptoms and ruminative thoughts, and typical healthy individuals also reported less depressive symptoms.

Depression is characterized in part by an inability to stop dwelling on gloomy thoughts and unhappy memories from the past. Researchers suspect that this thinking pattern, known as rumination, may involve two areas of the brain in particular: the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that helps to control attention and focus; and the hippocampus, which is critical for learning and memory. In some studies, people with severe depression have been found to have a smaller hippocampus than people who are not depressed.

Learn more at nature.com (search for “meditation and aerobic exercise”).

Katherine Kopp is a freelance writer and editor in Chapel Hill.is a freelance writer and editor in Chapel Hill.

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