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Exercise for Mood and Anxiety: Proven Strategies for Overcoming Depression and Enhancing Well-Being Paperback – 8 Sep 2011


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Review

This book is written for people with diagnosed mood or anxiety disorders but refreshingly also for those who are interested in exercise, as well as those who might want to learn how to maintain their motivation for exercise. (Occupational Medicine, Feb 2013)

About the Author

Michael W. Otto, PhD is Professor of Psychology at Boston University. He has done extensive research on strategies to improve treatments for anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders. Jasper A. J. Smits, PhD is Associate Professor of Psychology at Southern Methodist University. He has done research on both anxiety disorders and health habits such as smoking, including a current large-scale study on the use of exercise for smoking cessation.

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Amazon.com: 33 reviews
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Very helpful! 29 July 2011
By Kristin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a terrific book! I have been trying to get into an exercise routine for years, and the first thing about this book that caught my eye was the promise of learning "how to maintain an exercise program not by applying more effort, but by arranging surrounding environments so that less effort is needed." I had been trying to put in more and more effort, but not getting any actual (consistent) success, so the idea of using less effort sounded perfect for me! Each chapter of this book adds an important piece of building a successful exercise habit, and the material on enjoying exercise, exercising mindfully, and the truth about motivation has revolutionized my experience of exercise and has given me tools to apply to the rest of my life, too. I would heartily recommend this book to anyone who struggles with depression or anxiety, or just the daily ups and downs of life, or anyone who's trying to become healthier and happier in general!
36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
An informative guide to creating an exercise program as a means to manage anxious and depressive symptoms 22 Nov 2011
By doctor_beth - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
NOTE: I received a free copy of this book to review for the web site Metapsychology Online Reviews; you can read a more complete version of my review on that site.

In this book, psychologists Michael Otto and Jasper Smits present a comprehensive, action-based approach for using exercise as a means to manage mood. In particular, they give much attention to one's motivation for exercise, focusing on the idea that although it will take time to fully address symptoms of depression or anxiety, exercise can provide IMMEDIATE mood benefits. Therefore, the authors strive to help their readers make the actual experience of working out more pleasant. Otto and Smits also address other motivational factors, including preparing for low motivation and directing one's thoughts for success. Later in the book, they talk further about both increasing one's enjoyment during exercise via using mindfulness-based strategies and rewarding oneself after exercise.

Another chapter centers around planning one's exercise routine. Here the authors discuss the benefits and the challenges of exercising at morning, mid-day, and in the evening. In addition, they review some common excuses not to engage in physical activity, including being too stressed, too depressed, or too bored. Otto and Smits also cover the particulars of exactly how to set up an exercise program, including choosing a fitness activity, determining an appropriate level of intensity, and keeping an exercise log. Furthermore, they encourage readers to change up their routines on a regular basis in order to remain interested and engaged in exercise. The final chapter deals with living an overall healthy lifestyle, such as being active in general, eating well, and more.

I am a psychologist (and daily exerciser) myself, and I frequently encourage regular exercise with my own clients. Overall, I found this book to be a useful tool that I would recommend to clients wanting to begin an exercise program. I thought that the motivational information, including the mindfulness techniques, was the most beneficial part of the book, although I also thought that this could have been better organized (i.e., it is broken up into several different chapters, including some earlier in the book and some later). I also liked that the authors included various Resources and an Appendix with helpful web links, logs, and other information (much of this can also be found on their web site, exercise4mood).

I did have a few issues with this book, however. First, the authors overlooked the most common excuse I hear for not exercising from my college student clients: "not enough time." Yes, Otto and Smits talk about the ideal time of day to work out, but they do not really address the specific issue of being over-scheduled. Also, there was not much variety in the types of exercise which the authors suggested: running was far and above the dominant activity, and only a few others (e.g., calisthenics, boot camp programs) are even mentioned. The authors would have better served their audience by providing a wider range of options--more diverse alternatives such as Zumba classes, martial arts, and fitness DVDs are only the tip of the iceberg. Finally, the last chapter, as well-meaning as it may have been, began to feel quite preachy to me--while I agree that these issues are important, they simply did not seem to belong in this book.

As noted above, Otto and Smits have created an informative guide to starting an exercise program as a means to manage mood and anxiety symptoms, and I would recommend it.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Outstanding 13 Jan 2012
By friend of wally cleaver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a terrific book. These guys really know their stuff and do a good, thorough job of communicating it. This should be a great tool for those with depression and anxiety and, I would think, other mood disorders. The 'Catch-22' of depression and anxiety is that it often seems impossible to 'get moving'. But you'll be encouraged and motivated by this book. I can't recommend it enough!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
very useful 25 July 2011
By Michelle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be extremely useful in helping me develop a consistent workout regimen (for both mood and health-related reasons). For me, the most useful section of the book dealt with how you can create motivation for yourself by planning for setbacks in advance, rather than relying on some internal source of willpower to keep you going. I love that very specific strategies (that are feasible to integrate into the everyday person's life) are detailed and all of the strategies in the book cite scientific research. I would highly recommend this to anyone who struggles with mood/anxiety-related problems or who has had trouble sticking with their exercise goals!
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Thank you! 25 July 2011
By Mark - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Finally, an all in one resource! I originally got this book to give to patients as a supplement to therapy for depression. I know the authors have written extensively in scientific journals about the efficacy of exercise and also produced treatment manuals for therapists - so it was no surprise to see the thorough review of how effective exercise is, how it works, why it works, and how exactly to design an exercise program. However, I was delighted to discover this book also includes specific state-of-the-art strategies that increase motivation, adherence, and fun in following the exercise programs. In my experience, most exercise programs can work. The problem is getting people (myself included) to actually start and stick with exercise. The strategies in this book have changed my life and how, when, and even why I exercise. This I did not expect. I have never seen such an approach before and I believe it should be applied to all exercise applications!
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