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Sinclair Cares: How exercise is also great for your mind

A look at the connection between mental health and working out.

Exercise, it’s something many of us are trying to do more often this new year, and while we all know it's good for your body, new research shows it’s even better for your mind.

Working in partnership with our parent company, Sinclair Broadcast Group, we want to bring you important health and safety matters.

That’s why we took a look at the connection between mental health and working out.

Clinical depression has been a part of Elisa Fraley’s life for as long as she can remember.

"It’s been something that I’ve battled probably since my 20s,” said Fraley.

These days Fraley takes medication.

“I’ve been taking it for a long time and it helps,” said Fraley.

She also does something she can’t get out of a bottle, exercise.

"Ever since college I’ve been working out and I just know that it does help me,” said Fraley.

A series of studies out of Duke University consistently found exercise helps a lot of people in Fraley’s shoes.

The research started with a study of more than 150 adults with mild or moderate depression.

They were separated into three groups.

Group one took the antidepressant drug, sertraline which is in Zoloft and Lustral.

Group two took the antidepressant and exercised three times a week for 45 minutes.

Group three did exercise only.

The treatment lasted for 4 months.

They found treating depression with exercise was just as effective as medication.

It was basically a three-way tie.

They followed up six months later and found the exercise-only group did overwhelmingly better with fewer patients relapsing.

“It doesn't occur to us to just put some running shoes on or go to the gym, but that can have some of the same beneficial effects as taking medicine or doing therapy,” said Dr.Laura Vernon.

Vernon, a psychologist, said exercise can be just as good for your brain as it is for your body.

“Your brain is releasing endorphins that we all know about, the sort of feel good hormones that will get you through and give you energy, but you're also in some ways changing your body chemistry moving forward,” said Vernon.

Elisa Fraley agreed.

"Not only are you getting the benefits psychologically, but you're also getting them physically which does happen to help depression, because when you're looking good you have a better self-esteem,” said Fraley.

The study concluded it's not that medication doesn't work, it does. It's that exercise works just as well, and it has the added bonus of creating a positive new identity.

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