Physical skill acquisition lessens depression and fatigue

Physical activity is known to reduce depression and fatigue in people struggling with chronic illness. A new study indicates that this effect may stem from an individual’s sense of mastery over — or belief in his or her ability to achieve — certain physical goals.

Says the lead researcher, “The relationship between physical activity and reductions in fatigue in breast-cancer survivors and people with MS can be explained in part by the effect of physical activity on mastery experiences… That sense of accomplishment, or situation-specific self-confidence, serves to reduce depression, which in turn reduces fatigue.”

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The lesson: Pursue skill and productive self-mastery through activity, not an abstract “perfection” or “fixing yourself”.