I found a couple of fairly recent articles that highlight the importance of exercise and self-management strategies in controlling and maintaining mood stability. The first research study followed a group of high functioning people with Bipolar Disorder to see what strategies they used to control their Bipolar Disorder, and the second study investigated the role of exercise in managing Bipolar Disorder.
In the article, What works for people with bipolar disorder? Tips from the experts. Journal of Affective Disorders, Dec. 2009, the authors acknowledge that there is a large gap in the literature about strategies for managing Bipolar Disorder. Treatments are inadequate and there are few effective self-management strategies that have been studied, validated, and documented for use. In this study, the investigators monitored high functioning people with Bipolar Disorder and recorded the self-management strategies that they used to successfully manage their Bipolar Disorder.
The self-management strategies found to be effective were in the areas of: 1) Sleep, rest, exercise and diet; 2) Ongoing monitoring; 3) Enacting a plan; 4) Reflective and meditative practices; 5) Understanding Bipolar Disorder and educating others; 6) Connecting with others. Hear the authors, “The findings constitute hopeful stories for people affected by the disorder and suggest further research to confirm and refine mechanisms of beneficial effect in Bipolar Disorder.”
In another article, Exercise and bipolar disorder: a review of neurobiological mediators, Neuromoleculcar Medicine, 2009;11(4):328-36, researchers reviewed articles published between 1966 and July of 2008. In their abstract they state, “Individualized exercise interventions are capable of alleviating the severity of affective and cognitive difficulties….”
In order to find appropriate studies to review, they cross referenced the term Bipolar Disorder with the following terms: exercise, neurobiology, brain, cognition, neuroplasticity, etc. They reviewed the literature and found evidence that structured exercise regimens do have positive health effects as well as “robust anti-depressant effects”. They suggest that structured exercise is capable of “improving psychiatric and somatic health in Bipolar Disorder”.
In summary, these two studies focused on people with Bipolar Disorder. The results of both studies conclude that exercise and other self-management strategies can have significant beneficial effects on Bipolar Disorder.