Conquering Depression and Anxiety Through Exercise

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Prometheus Books, 2004 - Health & Fitness - 305 pages
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One out of every two Americans will suffer from some mental disorder during their lifetimes, with depression being the most common problem. How do most of us cope? Usually, we turn to overeating, drinking, and smoking. In short, we treat our unhealthy mental reactions to the American lifestyle with even unhealthier physical habits.
Clinical psychologist Keith Johnsgard — an inveterate runner who is in his 70's! — proposes a better solution in this uplifting book. Why not turn to exercise — one of the healthiest aspects of American lifestyle — as a means of improving not just our physical well-being but our state of mind as well? Though usually associated with losing weight and physical fitness, exercise does in fact offer many mental health benefits. Johnsgard inspires us to put on a pair of sneakers and start moving. He draws from a lifetime of clinical experience, research on the psyche of the athlete, and personal experience as an athlete to make a convincing case that exercise can greatly enhance our mental outlook. Further, physical activity decreases the symptoms of depression as well as psychotherapy and drugs, and with only positive side effects! Exercise not only reduces depression and anxiety, but also boosts your energy level and self-esteem.
If depression and anxiety have overshadowed your life, or you just want to improve your mental outlook while enhancing your physical fitness, this book is a superb motivator to help you help yourself through the healthiest, least expensive, and simplest method available.

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I had a very troubling experience with Keith Johnsgard when I was an undergrad at San José State in the early 1970s. He ran a therapy group out of the psychology service at the student health center. The group had the common rule that anything happened in the group stayed in the group. In a couple of sessions, Dr. Johnsgard focused on one young woman in the group, bringing her to tears, and ending by holding her and telling her that he would like to go out with her sometime. This seemed to me inappropriate, and I asked a fellow student what she thought of it. She reported my question to the head of the psychology service who called him on the carpet. It was not his first offense. Johnsgard called me into his office, told me that I had violated the group rule, and kicked me out with the advice that I should not pursue a career in psychology because I couldn’t be trusted. His words drove me from psychology for the next 5 years. I later became a clinical psychologist and have had a successful career. I have never forgotten the damage that this man did to me and, I think, to the young woman, maybe others. Anyone contemplating working with this man or supporting his books should also contemplate the persistence of sociopathy. 

About the author (2004)

Keith Johnsgard, Ph.D. (Los Gatos, CA), is emeritus professor of psychology at San Jose State University and the author of the The Exercise Prescription for Depression and Anxiety. He has been a contributor to Runner's World and an expert commentator, who has appeared on the CBS Winter Olympics (1994), Dateline NBC, the Lifetime Channel, the Learning Channel, A & E, and the BBC.

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