A new study that examined data from almost 34,000 people has found that as little as 1 hour of exercise each week, regardless of intensity, can help to prevent depression.
The economic burden of depression was estimated to be $210.5 billion in 2010 alone. At a global level, the World Health Organization (WHO) calculate that more than 300 million people live with the disorder.
Treatments for depression usually involve medication, psychotherapy, or cognitive behavioral therapy, or a combination of these approaches.
The research conducted by scientists from the Black Dog Institute in collaboration with colleagues from other institutions worldwide, including universities and health institutes from the United Kingdom, Australia, and Norway.
The study – led by Prof. Samuel Harvey, from the Black Dog Institute – analyzed data collected from 33,908 Norwegian adults who were followed over a period of 11 years.
“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 preventive potential of physical activity in terms of reducing future levels of depression.” Says Prof. Harvey
He adds: These findings are exciting because they show that even relatively small amounts of exercise – from 1 hour per week – can deliver significant protection against depression