We all know physical activity can do wonders for lifting the mood, but new research shows that regular exercise may actually prevent the onset of depression.
Although earlier research has demonstrated the positive effects of exercise on mental and physical health, there have been no major literature reviews analyzing the effects of exercise on the risk of depression.
Publishing in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, PhD candidate George Mammen conducted the first longitudinal review of the effects of physical activity on mental health. The meta-analysis included 26 years of research including 30 peer-reviewed studies.
Even low levels of physical activity like walking or gardening for 30 minutes per day was enough to prevent depression, regardless of age. Although genetic predispositions can increase your risk of depression, the research shows that lifestyle habits can play a significant role in prevention.
“We need a prevention strategy now more than ever,” Mammen said. “Our health system is taxed. We need to shift focus and look for ways to fend off depression from the start.”
“It’s definitely worth taking note that if you’re currently active, you should sustain it. If you’re not physically active, you should initiate the habit,” Mammen noted. “This review shows promising evidence that the impact of being active goes far beyond the physical.”
Moderate exercise not only treats, but prevents depression. Media Room. https://media.utoronto.ca/media-releases/moderate-exercise-not-only-treats-but-prevents-depression/
George Mammen, Guy Faulkner. Physical Activity and the Prevention of Depression. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2013; 45 (5): 649 DOI:10.1016/j.amepre.2013.08.001