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Get up and move: Even small doses of physical activity, such as brisk walking, can substantially reduce the risk of depression, according to a new data analysis.
“Most of the benefits are gained when moving from doing nothing to at least doing something,” the study authors wrote.
Recommended levels of exercise in the United States, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.include aerobic activity at moderate levels (such as brisk walking) for 2.5 hours a week, along with training for all major muscle groups twice a week.
Alternatively, a person may choose vigorous aerobic exercise, such as running, for 1.25 hours each week, along with the same amount of strength training.
Moderate to vigorous exercise is good for us, According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Improves sleep; lowers blood pressure; protects against heart disease, diabetes and cancer; reduces stress; raises mood; and combat anxiety and depression.
But in today’s busy world, many people find it difficult to go for a run or go to the gym. Add depression to the mix and the motivation to exercise is further reduced, experts say.
The meta-analysis published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry.analyzed 15 studies involving more than 190,000 people to determine how much exercise was needed to reduce depression.
Adults who engaged in activities equivalent to 1.25 hours of brisk walking per week had an 18% lower risk of depression compared to those who did not exercise, according to the study.
Advancing to an “activity volume equivalent to 2.5 hours of brisk walking per week was associated with a 25% decreased risk of depression,” the study authors said.
The benefits were strongest when a person went from being a couch potato to adding movement to the day, according to the study. However, exercising above recommended levels did not provide any additional benefit.
“Our findings therefore have important new implications for health professionals making lifestyle recommendations, especially for inactive people who may perceive the current recommended (exercise) goal as unrealistic,” the authors wrote. .
A study published in 2018 found similar results: People who exercised had around 43% fewer days of poor mental health.
“Even walking just three times a week seems to give people better mental health than no exercise at all,” study author. Adam Chekroud, Deputy Assistant professor in psychiatry at Yale University, he told CNN at the time.
Exercising in 45-minute sessions three to five times a week was the most beneficial for improving mental health, the 2018 study found. However, even doing housework reduced days of mental health problems by about 10%, according to the study.
A study published in 2020 found that even light exercise helped protect children against developing depression. The 2020 study found that 60 minutes of simple movement each day at age 12 was linked to an average 10% reduction in depression at age 18.
Types of movement included running, cycling, and walking, as well as activities such as doing homework, painting or playing an instrument.