It is something many people swear by: exercise as a way to relieve depression. Now, a new study is backing this theory up.
According to new research published today in the JAMA Psychiatry journal, a comprehensive analysis of data is suggesting that exercise is a great way to help curb depression. The researchers have used an enormous amount of data to come to this conclusion, according to Mind Body Green. In fact, “one measure of physical activity was based on 377,000 people’s self-reported documentation of their physical activity; another was based on 91,000 people wearing motion-detecting sensors on their wrists, and the depression measure was based on 143,000 people with and without the illness.”
According to the study, it appears that the more exercise one does, the better protection they have against developing depression. However, this doesn’t appear to work the other way around. So, effectively, by having depression, it did not lead to a decrease in exercise.
Karmel Choi, Ph.D., who is the report’s lead author as well as a postdoctoral fellow in the Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit at the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Genomic Medicine, released the following statement on the study and the effects of exercise and depression.
“Any activity appears to be better than none; our rough calculations suggest that replacing sitting with 15 minutes of a heart-pumping activity like running, or with an hour of moderately vigorous activity, is enough to produce the average increase in accelerometer data that was linked to lower depression risk.”
While Choi believes the study is significant in terms of creating a link between exercise and the risk of developing depression, it doesn’t mean that this is a cure-all regarding depression. She also admits that while exercise does appear to curb depression rates in susceptible individuals, it will still be a challenge implementing exercise for those who are not inclined — or are unable — to take up this type of habit.
“Of course, it’s one thing to know that physical activity could be beneficial for preventing depression; it’s another to actually get people to be physically active. More work needs to be done to figure out how best to tailor recommendations to different kinds of people with different risk profiles. We currently are looking at whether and how much physical activity can benefit different at-risk groups, such as people who are genetically vulnerable to depression or those going through stressful situations and hope to develop a better understanding of physical activity to promote resilience to depression.”
However, for those that are inclined and do feel like exercise may benefit them, it is certainly a great strategy. However, it is always important to find the type of exercise that suits the individual in an effort to help alleviate additional stresses that may be associated with exercise, such as those people who also suffer from social anxieties.
As always, people are advised to contact their health professionals regarding a complete plan regarding depression.