The Science of Fitness

Several studies have shown that there is a direct link between physical activity and lower levels of depressive symptoms, however, no one can definitively say why or how. While Virago believes whole heartedly in the power of positive thoughts, we also believe that knowledge is power. With that being said, we have compiled what we have found to be the best research out there so far to better explain why fitness is beneficial for post-traumatic growth. As more research comes available, we will be sure to update our followers. 

"Exercise, Blumenthal concluded, was generally comparable to antidepressants for patients with major depressive disorder" (Psychosomatic Medicine, 2007).

Harvard Health Publications (2014)

Regular Exercise Changes the Brain to Improve Memory, Thinking Skills

"Exercise helps memory and thinking through both direct and indirect means. The benefits of exercise come directly from its ability to reduce insulin resistance, reduce inflammation, and stimulate the release of growth factors—chemicals in the brain that affect the health of brain cells, the growth of new blood vessels in the brain, and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.

Indirectly, exercise improves mood and sleep, and reduces stress and anxiety. Problems in these areas frequently cause or contribute to cognitive impairment.

Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory (the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex) have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don’t. “Even more exciting is the finding that engaging in a program of regular exercise of moderate intensity over six months or a year is associated with an increase in the volume of selected brain regions,” says Dr. Scott McGinnis, a neurologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor in neurology at Harvard Medical School."


The Jama Network (2014)

Depressive Symptoms and Physical Activity During 3 Decades in Adult Life

An article written by Snehal M. Pinto Pereira, PhD1Marie-Claude Geoffroy, PhD1,2Christine Power, PhD1 explains a study done in 2014. The objective of the study was to "To examine whether depressive symptoms are concurrent with physical activity and to examine the direction of the relationship from 23 to 50 years of age" (The Jama Network, 2014). The parameters of the study were: "Participants included members of the 1958 British Birth Cohort, a general population sample of all persons born in England, Scotland, and Wales in a single week in March 1958 who were followed up to 50 years of age (2008). We included approximately 11 000 cohort members with information on depressive symptoms or frequency of physical activity at 23, 33, 42, or 50 years of age." 

The results of the study were: "At most ages, we found a trend of fewer depressive symptoms with more frequent activity; for example, per higher frequency of activity per week at 50 years of age, the mean number of symptoms was lower" (The Jama Network, 2014). 

Read full article here:

Time Magazine (2015)

Exercise May Prevent Depression—Not Just Alleviate It

Time Magazine wrote an article about a recent study in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise - Read study here:

"The researchers looked 10 years' worth of data from 2,891 women between ages 42 and 52, who filled out questionnaires about their depressive symptoms and levels of physical activity. They found that the women who were meeting public health recommendations for physical activity—150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise—reported fewer depressive symptoms. The more physical activity the women said they did, the less likely they were to have signs of depression" (Sifferlin, 2015). 

Read full article here: