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High Intensity Training As An Alternative Treatment For Depression

High Intensity Training As An Alternative Treatment for Depression


Clinical depression is unfortunately a common occurrence in the United States. According to statistics from the U.S. National Comorbidity Survey, 16% of Americans will suffer from a clinically defined depressive disorder during the course of their lifetime and conventional treatments can be often difficult to administer. Among the cases looked at by the Comorbidity Survey only 22% received adequate treatment leaving the majority without proper treatment or diagnosis.(1)  Further compounding the problem is the high rate of adverse effects that come from the use of antidepressants and the high dropout rates among users. This phenomena is particularly stronger among older adults who studies have shown to be less tolerant of antidepressants than their younger counterparts. Meta-analysis of antidepressant trials in older adults found that the dropout rate was 25% with 60% experiencing what were termed adverse effects during an average treatment period of only 5 weeks.(2) That being said the search for viable and nontoxic alternatives for the treatment of depression should be a key priority in mental health research, especially for the older members of our population. Exercise has thus far been positively viewed as a potential alternative treatment with most of the research focusing on the use of aerobic exercise. However randomized controlled trials have also identified significant improvements in clinically depressed older and younger adults, both male and female through the use of resistance training. (3-7)


Weight Lifting Found To Be As Effective As Aerobics In Relieving Depression


One study conducted at the University of Rochester and published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that weight lifting was as effective as aerobic exercise in improving clinical depression.(6) The study involved 40 women, all clinically diagnosed with a depressive disorder who were randomly assigned to three groups for 8 weeks- one group with a exercise regimen involving running (aerobic exercise), the second group employing a weight lifting program while the final group remained on a waitlist as a control doing no extra activities during the two month period. Subjects were reassessed during the course of the study, after the study and then at 1, 7 and 12 month follow up intervals. The results were consistent across the board with both exercise regimes- running (aerobics) and weight lifting significantly reducing depression as compared to the control group even though no truly significant fitness changes were seen in either group. The study concluded that both forms of exercise were equally effective and that an aerobic effect was not responsible for improvements in depression among people who exercise.


Exercise Intensity Is Directly Related To Relief Of Depressive Symptoms


Another study published in the Journal of Gerontology sought to discover whether there was a relationship between the intensity of the exercise performed and the degree of reduction in depression among older adults. In this randomized control trial sixty older adults with diagnosed depressive disorders were assigned to three groups. Group one involved supervised progressive resistance high intensity training at a threshold of 80% of their maximum load for three days a week for eight-week period. Group two involved low intensity progressive resistance training at 20% of maximum load for the same length of time and group three received standard care from their GP with a mandate to not exercise for the duration of the trial. The study found an astounding 50% reduction in the Hamilton Rating Scale of Depression in 61% of the high intensity training group and that ‘strength gain was directly related to the reduction in depressive symptoms’. (8) Vitality quality of life scale improved more in the high intensity group than the others and while sleep quality was improved in all participants the greatest relative change took place in the high intensity training group.


With such impressive results there is a real need for much further research into whether this could be a clinically prescribed treatment for depression and possibly an alternative to the use of anti-depressant medication. One important factor that needs to be studied is the duration of exercise sessions required to affect a reduction in depressive symptoms as all the exercise protocols used in the trials lasted for the standard time of 60 minutes each. One of the biggest drawbacks to the use of exercise as a tool for people suffering from depression is the fact that the motivation required to train for an hour three times a week is hard to come by within the general population, much less an individual suffering from depressive disorders. However, with so much research showing that short high intensity sessions, lasting anywhere from 6 to 10 minutes can bring about increases in strength, muscle mass, endurance and coordination it might be a more viable alternative for individuals who would find it difficult to stick to a longer regime.(9,10,11) In addition some data suggest that ‘a low-frequency, high intensity approach to training is associated with greater long-term adherence as compared with a high-frequency, low-intensity approach.'(12)


High Intensity Training Vs Antidepressant Treatments For Depression


A very large number of randomized trials have found that fifty percent of all patients treated with antidepressant medication will show some signs of improvement in their depressive symptoms regardless of the class of medication used and the other half will respond to a combination of antidepressants. [13,14,15,16] These randomized trials are conducted by the pharmaceutical companies and in the real world the efficacy is notably lower. Other studies show that without antidepressants approximately 20 to 40 out of 100 people who took a placebo noticed an improvement in their symptoms within six to eight weeks. With antidepressants, 40 to 60 out of 100 people who took an antidepressant noticed an improvement in their symptoms within six to eight weeks, in other words, antidepressants improved symptoms in about 20 more people out of 100. [20,21,22] Antidepressants work by blocking the reuptake of serotonin, noradrenaline or dopamine, however, as good as this might sound, the reality is that research has shown that antidepressants only temporarily suppress symptoms and do not cure depression. [17] That is, although antidepressants are effective in the treatment of acute depressive episodes and is preventive so long as its use is maintained, no published findings to date suggest that antidepressants reduce future risk of depressive episodes once you stop using them. [18] Moreover, the lack of evidence that antidepressant treatment reduces the risk of developing subsequent depressive episodes suggests that the changes in brain function and structure that are thought to result from antidepressant treatment do not confer protection against the return of symptoms once antidepressant drug therapy is discontinued. [13]


Like all medications, antidepressants can have side effects and over half of all people who use antidepressants report experiencing side effects. Some of these side effects are believed to be a direct consequence of the medication’s effect on the brain and are relatively similar among various drugs of the same group. Patients who are taking antidepressants sometimes have a dry mouth, headaches, feel faint, anxious, and have a decreased sex drive and during long term use, the most troubling adverse effects are sexual dysfunction, weight gain, and sleep disturbance.[23-38] Contrast this with high intensity training protocols which  have been shown to increase positive affect and well-being, and to reduce state anxiety and distress in anywhere from 60% or more of those involved in studies. High intensity training protocols also have known side effects such as increases in VO2 peak endurance, strength increases, increased lean muscle mass and weight loss when diet is controlled.[39-52] The effect of high intensity training on depressive states is acute, but unlike the use of antidepressants, it is something that can be done indefinitely as there are no adverse side effects, whereas with antidepressants, individuals who are experiencing adverse reactions may be apt to discontinue their antidepressant prematurely, never achieving full remission and increasing their risk of relapse and or of discontinuation reactions.[53] None of which is an issue for high intensity training.



Almost three decades ago, I created a system of personal training called Naturally Intense High Intensity Training. A system of high intensity ten-minute workouts performed three times a week that have been effective in doing everything from helping clients lose 100 lbs or more to helping athletes increase endurance and sports performance and help men and women in average shape progress to the point of being able to successfully compete in bodybuilding and physique related contests. It has been exceptionally successful in terms of weight loss and body transformation, which was its initial purpose as is a way of training I developed for myself as a way to realize my dream of becoming a competitive bodybuilder without resorting to the use of performance enhancing drugs of any kind. What I was not expecting, was the feedback I received from clients over the years who were using antidepressants and were able to stop using them after this form of high intensity training became a regular part of their lives. As someone who worked for years in clinical mental health settings, I would never advocate that anyone abandon their medication and replace it with high intensity training. However, having trained hundreds of men and women over the past 27 years, the rate of success among those who were able to wean themselves off or significantly reduce the use of antidepressant medication under the supervision of their clinical health care providers has been high enough that it is hard for it to go unnoticed.


Why Is High Intensity Training Not Implemented Universally As A Treatment for Depression


In terms of research, much more is needed but it may strike you as puzzling that such a noninvasive and seemingly effective method of relieving depression would not be front and center in the toolset for those suffering from clinical depression. However, as in the case of the economics of obesity, there are enormous profits to be made from the use of pharmaceutical interventions. Global revenue for antidepressants is projected to grow to nearly $17 billion by 2020 even with the growing number of lower priced generic forms of antidepressants, and studies find that antidepressant use contributes significantly to the increase in spending while contributing little to traditional measures of quality relief of depressive symptoms.[13] Many argue that the lack of research and promotion on non-drug related studies on readily available modalities such as high intensity exercise, stems primarily from the enormous profit that depression provides to pharmaceutical companies. Companies with powerful governmental lobbies have considerable power over mental health policy and protocols and that there would be little to be gained if depression could be treated simply by having someone train hard three days a week. The other problem is study set up. It is very easy and costs little to study aerobic exercise protocols, as having a set number of people on a treadmill at a set intensity for a prolonged period is relatively easy to monitor. Factor in the costs of trainers for a large group of people who all have to train individually the same way over a prolonged period, and study complexity and costs go up tremendously, but if there was enough of an interest, it would indeed be done. Regardless of the reasons, high intensity training protocols are indeed a potentially invaluable tool that could in some way help millions suffering from depression.


My back today, no pump and nothing fancy!

They used to call me "Back Man" back in the day and it goes without saying that it's my strong point.

It's a muscle group that's a bit like legs, in that many people don't put that much emphasis on it as it's not a Hollywood muscle like chest, shoulders, abs and arms.

It also, like legs, requires a lot of work and a hard back workout can feel like a leg workout as you should be almost on the floor if you did it right.

I train my back and all muscle groups just once a week with Naturally Intense High Intensity training, so we are talking about a workout that can last about 10 minutes.

But it's 10 minutes of pure and utter hell, and look out for some more videos coming soon from me on back training.

Thanks for tuning in and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#highintensitytraining #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #backworkout #naturalbodybuildingtips #backtraining #highintensitytrainingtips #drugfreebodybuilding

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High Intensity Training For Natural Athletes.

For the past thirty plus years I have been training with a system I named Naturally Intense High Intensity Training.

And it helped me go from a 125lb skinny teenager into a successful natural bodybuilder training only THREE TIMES A WEEK with workouts lasting 10, 15 to 20 MINUTES at the most!

It sounds too good to be true but it's not only the cornerstone of my success but also has helped the hundreds of men and women I have trained with it as well over the past three decades.

Most of the popular high intensity training protocols out there were designed for and popularized by enhanced athletes, and they miss by a large mark some important factors that come into play for those who don't use drugs.

I hope it can help you as much as it's helped me and you can see the full video on YouTube by clicking on my bio link- or just look me up there (Kevin Richardson- Naturally Intense)

Thanks for taking the time to look at my work and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#highintensitytraining #hit #highintensityworkout #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #naturalbodybuildingtips #highintensitytrainingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #personaltrainer

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High Intensity Training: Pull Ups & Heavy Dumbbell Rows!

Compound sets are tough!

Going from one exercise to the next for the same muscle group without rest can really tax you!

One of the basic principles of Naturally Intense High Intensity Training is that every workout is different and this is an example of doing just one set going all out.

This was the last exercise for shoulders and back and the pull ups started off easy enough, but started to bite towards the end.

Next it was straight to the 100lb dumbbells for 8 grueling reps of rows.

(I was going to go with the 120lb dumbbells, but @egcitrin in her infinite wisdom suggested that the 100lb ones should be more than enough!)

Still training hard and I hope you are too!!!

Thanks for watching and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#hometraining #homeworkout #homeworkout #roguerack #highintensitytraining #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #backworkout #pullups #naturalbodybuildingtips #backtraining #highintensitytrainingtips #drugfreebodybuilding

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I Still Get Sore Even After 30+ Years of High Intensity Training!

So the answer to the question as to whether or not I still get sore from my training is:


A resounding yes!

I still get really sore, in fact as I am in pain as I write this as there isn't really a way for my body to adapt to the type of workouts that I do because with Naturally Intense High Intensity Training, every workout is different, so there's never a point where it gets easy!

Thing is, as bad as it gets, it's still something I look forward to as it hurts, but in a good way!

And if you've ever really pushed it and felt the aftermath a day or two after training, you know exactly what I mean!

So keep training hard, know I believe in you and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#musclesoreness #legday #naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuildingvideo #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #naturalbodybuildingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #bodybuilding #highintensitytraining #highintensitytrainingtips #gymlife #workout

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Change the Focus: Looking Good Comes From Feeling Good!

Want to know why I train as hard as I do and never miss a workout even though I haven't stepped on stage in a bodybuilding competition in 19 years?

Want to know how I stay on diet 100% without flinching?

The answer is simple.

I do what I do because it FEELS GOOD.

I couldn't care less that my body fat percentage is under 10%.

It's nice, don't get me wrong, but I don't eat thinking I need to stay lean.

Nor do I train thinking that I need to be muscular.

I eat the way I eat because I feel good when I eat that way.

I train the way I train because I feel great when I train that way.

And if I could leave you with just one gem of wisdom towards helping you realize your goals, it would be to stop focusing on the result and instead focus on enjoying the process.

As a natural athlete, realizing your potential often takes years. Not months, years.

And so you have to find a path that sets you up for the long game, and one that also makes you FEEL BETTER in the process.

Forget about the six pack, forget about losing weight, forget about building muscle, and instead focus on what you need to do in order to accomplish those goals.

Because if you do, everything in life just gets better!

That's the "secret" if there ever was one and so focus on the Path, enjoy the Path, know that I believe in you and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuildingvideo #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #naturalbodybuildingtips #highintensitytraining #drugfreebodybuilding #nodrugs #fitover40 #fitoverforty #naturalbodybuildingforlife #abs #sixpack

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High Intensity T-Bar Rows (Home Gym Style)

Rows are one of the cornerstones of my back development and with variety being an important part of Naturally Intense High Intensity Training, being able to do a variety of rows training at home is critical.

Which is why I love landmine T-Bar Rows.

Back in the day at 5th Avenue gym we would stick a barbell in a corner and do T-Bar rows with an Olympic bar and a triangle grip attachment, and I wish we had landmines back then as this set up is much easier (and you don't destroy the wall!, which we often did back at 5th)

This was my last set and I ended at 225lbs which is fairly conservative, but this exercise has a way of sneaking up on you and the weight feeling a thousand pounds heavier towards the end!!!

For the equipment-minded, t's a @repfitnessequipment landmine attachment on my heavily modified @roguefitness Monster Lite Rack with a Rogue Fitness T-Bar.

Still training, and I hope you are too!!!!

Thanks for watching and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#tbarrows #backtraining #backworkout #roguefitness #repfitness #naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #highintensitytraining #highintensitytrainingtips #hometraining #homeworkout #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #naturalbodybuildingtraining #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #ryourogue

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Do You Outgrow Muscle Soreness Over Time?

I have trained with Naturally Intense High Intensity Training for the past 33 years and the question I am often asked is do I still get sore after all these years?

It's a great question, and one my clients always raise and in this video I go over my experience over the years with delayed onset muscle soreness and the answer might surprise you!!!

Click on my bio link to find out and see the full video on my YouTube Channel. (If you ever have any issues finding it, send me a DM and I will happily send you a link.

Keep training hard and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#musclesoreness #doms #delayedonsetmusclesoreness #legday #naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuildingvideo #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #naturalbodybuildingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #bodybuilding #highintensitytraining #highintensitytrainingtips #gymlife #workout

85 17

Kevin's Hack To Stay Lean 365 Days A Year!

If you are a natural athlete, you need to be in this for the long haul.

Muscle growth takes time, fat loss takes time and being able to be in a place where you both lean and well muscled, takes time as well.

So you need an approach that will allow you to keep on doing what you need to do for years on end, and this is such an approach.

It's a path based approach, one where the six pack, the weight loss, the muscle increase or the increase in strength happens because you are consistently doing what needs to be done in order to get there.

It's how I have been able to go from where I started at 125lbs at 6feet tall to a competitive natural bodybuilder and I know it will help you as well!

It's all about focusing on the path, not the destination or the reward and what's even better is that over time the Path itself becomes the reward.

Which over time allows you to be consistent enough to really realize your full potential.

So give the Path based approach a try, thanks for tuning in and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuildingvideos #drugfreebodybuilding #absallyear #pathbasedfitness #naturalbodybuildingtips #workouttips #fitover40 #gymlife #workoutmotivation #trainingmotivation #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #fitness #personaltrainer #fitnesscoach

104 16

Please note that all material is copyrighted and DMCA Protected and can be reprinted only with the expressed authorization of the author.

Click for a free copy!

Click To Get A Copy Of Kevin’s Free Ebook On The Role Of High Intensity Training In Reducing Abdominal Fat!


Featured everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to network TV, Kevin Richardson is the international fitness consultant for UNICEF, natural bodybuilding champion, creator of Naturally Intense High Intensity Training and one of the top personal trainers in New York City.

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Exercise- A Natural Treatment For Depression And Anxiety


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Kevin Richardson
Kevin Richardsonhttps://www.naturallyintense.net
Featured everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to CBS News, celebrity Personal Trainer NYC and with over 2.6 million readers of his blog, Kevin Richardson is the creator of Naturally Intense High Intensity Training, one of the top lifetime drug free bodybuilders of his time, the first International Fitness & Nutrition Consultant for UNICEF, 2020 and 8 Time Winner of the Best of Manhattan Awards for Personal Training and a world recognized authority on high intensity training. Kevin has helped thousands, from celebrities to CEO's over the past 30 years achieve their fitness goals with his 10 minute high-intensity workouts done just three times a week in conjunction with his holistic nutrition approach. You can learn more about about his diet and training services at www.naturallyintense.net

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