The psychological benefits of physical exercise continues to get substantial attention. Regular activity regardless of demographic variables can produce an array of physical and mental benefits, leading some researchers to encourage physicians to prescribe specific physical activities as part of treatment for a variety of conditions.

“The authors give doctors the “how-to” of prescribing exercise, in steps similar to those used in prescribing drugs: Be as specific as possible; make the exercise prescriptions condition-specific; tell patients exactly how often and how long to do them; intensify the progression about every three months.”

Encouraging clients to increase their level of activity is often one of the first suggestions I make. I have found that when people are able to do it they have increased energy, better body image, feel as if they are making progress toward their goals, and get better sleep, among others. I generally refer to exercise and socializing as “nature’s antidepressants” because the effects can be so profound. The difficulty is helping people find the motivation to actually follow through since exercise is often thought of as something unenjoyable. Ideally, a positive side effect of the increased focus on biological causes of mental illness and treatment methods is motivating people to move from the couch to the gym.