Exercise And Depression: Just One Hour Of Physical Activity Per Week May Be Preventative
A new study finds that just one hour of regular exercise per week, of any intensity. may prevent depression, and the benefits can be experienced regardless of gender or age. Science has long known that there is a definite link to exercise and depression, but this is the first large-scale to reveal that even a minimal amount of physical activity may be preventative.
The study, which is conducted by the Black Dog Institute, was recently published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. In the largest of its kind to date, the examination involved nearly 34,000 adult Norwegians whose exercise levels and depression and anxiety symptoms monitored over an 11 year period.
The research team discovered that 12% of cases of depression were preventable, if subjects had engaged in just one hour of exercise every week.
From the study:
“The social and physical health benefits of exercise explained a small proportion of the protective effect. Previously proposed biological mechanisms…did not appear to have a role in explaining the protection against depression.”
“Regular leisure-time exercise of any intensity provides protection against future depression…Relatively modest changes in population levels of exercise may have important public mental health benefits and prevent a substantial number of new cases of depression.”
More About The Study
Researchers compiled data from the Health Study of Nord-Trøndelag County (HUNT study), a population-based survey from 1984-1997 that is among the largest and most extensive ever conducted.
A health group of subjects were asked to report the frequency of exercise in which they engaged and at what intensity level. At a follow-up, they completed a questionnaire to report any developing depression or anxiety.
Findings revealed that subjects who reported no exercise had a 44% greater likelihood of developing depression versus those who engaged in exercise from one-two hours per week. These benefits, however, did not appear to protect against anxiety.
According to recent researchers, roughly 43% of Americans are “sedentary” – meaning they not engage in the minimal healthy requirement of 150 minutes of walking or moderate physical activity per week.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that approximately 9% of the U.S. population is depressed at least occasionally, and 3.4% suffer from major depression.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology