Homehigh intensity trainingHigh Intensity Training As An Alternative Treatment For Depression

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.


Not Bad For Training Only Three Days A Week!

Because it's three days a week with soul crunching intensity non stop for the past 33 years.

There's no gimmick to it and it means being uncompromisingly all in for your workouts and with your nutrition.

I don't think there's that much that special about me.

There's nothing enhanced, nothing boosted by testosterone and there weren't any special "supplements" along the way.

Just three days of blistering hard work each week and meticulous attention to what I eat.

Being 90% on point each week means you are 100% off after 10 weeks and I can't emphasize enough how much of a difference unshakeable consistency makes to your overall results.

Most of the natural athletes didn't get where they are by any genetic advantage, they just did what is so very rare- which is stick to their process 100%.

It's not easy as it's not always easy and certainly not always popular, but you owe it to yourself to see just how far you can go if you go all in!

Looking forward to seeing your results and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #fitover40 #homegym #drugfreebodybuilding #gymselfie #hometraining #naturalbodybuildingmotivation

195 33

What I Eat To Stay Lean and Keep Building Muscle All Year Round.

If there every was a "secret" to how I consistently stay in shape (and almost 20 years since my last competition) the answer would be my diet.

Diet is the deciding factor in what your body looks like and your overall performance and I want to stress that while this is a layout of the foods I eat on a daily basis, it's not a blueprint for your YOU should be eating.

What it can be is an example of what it takes to maintain a certain degree of size and muscularity at all times as a natural athlete, and also the underlying principle to how I select my foods.

Which is that I don't eat junk foods or highly processed foods and I only drink water.

(No protein shakes, ever!)

If you can start with that, there's no doubt that you will be on the right track in terms of your nutrition.

So stay away from processed foods, know that I believe in you and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuildingdiet #diet #whatieatinaday #mydiet #naturalbodybuildingvideos #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #drugfreebodybuilding #healthyeating #noproteinshakes #excelsior #bodybuilding #bodybuildingdiet

125 10

Post workout physique check in.

The contest gets closer and closer as the sun meanders across the sky, as my contest is and always will be, did I do everything I possibly could that day to improve?

Did I train hard enough?

Did I push it enough?

The dietary part isn't an issue.

It hasn't been for many years as I always make sure that my nutrition is on point, and there's no leeway on that front.

I don't feel good when I'm not eating optimally, and I respect myself enough to not settle into a place where not feeling my best is the norm.

And to be honest, it feels really good to put my head down at the end of the day knowing that I gave it my all.

Not that I was the best or was even necessarily successful at everything that I set out to accomplish, but knowing that I gave everything nonetheless.

It's a feeling I want everyone to have.

To sleep soundly knowing that you gave it your all.

That you didn't miss an opportunity to improve on what you are passionate about, because in so doing, you experience an eagerness to do the same the next day.

It's the ultimate contest and I invite everyone to submit their application forms, as it's one of the few competitions where everyone who does the work and shows up, is in the winner's circle.

Keep striving, keep pushing and as always, Excelsior! #naturallyintense

(Thanks @indi.anna.r or taking the shot, as I know your arm was probably shaking after that workout!)

#naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #fitover40 #homegym #drugfreebodybuilding #gymselfie #hometraining #naturalbodybuildingmotivation

159 13

Motivation vs Discipline. What You Really Need To Be Successful!

I am often asked what was my motivation to keep going starting off as a skinny 125lb kid who no one believed could ever be a successful bodybuilder.

The answer is that motivation didn't have that much to do with it.

Motivation may have played a part in getting me started, but it was discipline that got me to where I wanted to be.

Motivation is fleeting and ephemeral, it's not always going to be there and on the days when you don't feel like eating right or training hard, you need a disciplined practice to see you through.

A disciplined practiced based on doing what you need to do to be successful regardless of the circumstances.

That's how I made it through all those tough times when I felt I wasn't getting anywhere, and it's what will help you as well.

So forget motivation, focus on building a disciplined practice, know that I believe in you and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilding #nosteroids #fitnessgoals #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuildingvideos #excelsior #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #disciplineovermotivation #disciplineequalsfreedom #discipline #motivation#fitness #mindset #selfdiscipline #fitnessmotivation #disciplinequotes #workout #disciplineiskey

110 27

Kevin's Ultimate Secret Six Pack Abs Tip!

If you ever wondered how I maintain a six pack all year round and have kept that six pack for decades on end, here's the secret.

This is one tip that will honestly get you on the path to a six pack.

There's no magic to it.

But if you follow this simple piece of advice, you will be able to do a lot more than get yourself a six pack, as it's a proven formula for success.

Give it a try and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#sixpack #sixpackabs #6pack #6packabs #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuildingvideo #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #sixpacktips #drugfreebodybuilding #abs

165 18

Happy Archery Day, everyone!!!

Yeah, it's a thing and can't say how much it's my thing!

To be honest, I am a barebow shooter and almost never shoot my compound bow (the monster in my hands) but it's all really good fun!

If you haven't tried archery or are thinking about doing it again, go give it a shot (no pun intended!!!)

And as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#archery #archeryday #bowtech #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #blackandwhite #bowtech

135 19

Do You Have Good Genetics for Natural Bodybuilding?

I don't believe it's the question that needs to be asked.

Far too many, myself included, who went on to be successful natural bodybuilders would never have been the men and women you would expect to have the genetics for bodybuilding.

But we put in the work, the years, the dedication and the consistency, and so what matters isn't the question of genetics, but rather do you have the passion, the drive and the discipline to train hard and focus on your diet nonstop for years on end to realize your potential?

That's the real question, and yes, there are men and women who have great genetics for natural bodybuilding, but there are even more who would be amazing onstage but don't know it because they didn't believe enough in themselves to put in the time to see how far they could go.

So I am here to say that I believe you have it in you to do amazing things, so if it's your goal, or even if you just want to improve the way you look, stick with it and don't quit!

Know that I believe in you and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilding #nosteroids #fitnessgoals #bodytransformation #nodrugs #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuildingvideos #excelsior #fitover40 #personaltrainer #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #beleiveinyourself

157 17

Nope it's not a contest cut- it's just another day on the Path.

There are two ways to get cut, the fast way that requires going to extremes and which is inevitably temporary.

Or the Path-based way. Whereby your lifestyle and sustainable healthy practices get you there and keeps you there.

It takes time. It takes patience but it's an extremely honest endeavor.

If you put in the work and stay consistent with your training and following a processed food free and healthy diet, excellence is just a matter of time.

It takes time but as long as you draw breath, you have the time and you can do this.

So take the Path-based way and as always, Excelsior!!!

And my thanks to my son @reid_443 for snapping the shot, and the approval rating! 😂

#naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #fitover40 #homegym #drugfreebodybuilding #gymselfie #hometraining

260 32

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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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