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Exercise curbs depression

Lifting weights just one hour a week can curb symptoms of depression.

According to a new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry researchers found that adults who exercised at least an hour a week had success in staving off depressive symptoms. “We’ve known for some time that exercise has a role to play in treating symptoms of depression, but this is the first time we have been able to quantify the preventative potential of physical activity in terms of reducing future levels of depression,” lead author Samuel Harvey of the study said. “These findings are exciting because they show that even relatively small amounts of exercise – from one hour per week – can deliver significant protection against depression.”

Researchers followed nearly 34,000 healthy adults over a period of 11 years. Validated measures of exercise, depression, anxiety, and a range of potential confounding and mediating factors were collected.

Great potential of exercise

According to Harvey 12% of future cases of depression could have been prevented if all participants had engaged in at least 1 hour of physical activity each week.

“We are still trying to determine exactly why exercise can have this protective effect, but we believe it is from the combined impact of the various physical and social benefits of physical activity.”

“These results highlight the great potential to integrate exercise into individual mental health plans and broader public health campaigns. If we can find ways to increase the population’s level of physical activity even by a small amount, then this is likely to bring substantial physical and mental health benefits. Most of the mental health benefits of exercise are realized within the first hour undertaken each week,” said Harvey.

“With sedentary lifestyles becoming the norm worldwide, and rates of depression growing, these results are particularly pertinent as they highlight that even small lifestyle changes can reap significant mental health benefits.”

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