A team of researchers, led by the Black Dog Institute, found that regular exercise — just one hour a week — may help tackle and prevent depressive symptoms.
The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, involved 33,908 Norwegian participants, all ‘healthy’ adults, whose level of depression and anxiety were under observation for over 11 years.
The primary goal for researchers was to determine if exercise can prevent new-onset depression and anxiety, and if so, what intensity of exercise is needed.
Researchers found that in 12 percent of cases regarding depression, participants could’ve prevented such symptoms if they had exercised for a minimum of one hour a week.
“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,” said Samuel Harvey, one of the lead researchers.
The results also showed that participants with no reported exercise were 44% more likely to develop depressive symptoms when compared to those who exercised for at least an hour each week.
Although the exact understanding of how exercise helps with depression remains unexplainable, researchers believe it could be a combination of physical and social benefits.
Nevertheless, researchers hope the study may introduce exercise to more mental health plans and increase the population’s level of physical activity even by a small amount.
“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,” the study concluded.