A new study from the journal Depression & Anxiety states that physical activity is an ‘important modifiable factor’ for depression, even in hereditary cases. The study, which used data from nearly 8,000 participants, examined the correlation between lifestyle habits like physical activity and depression diagnoses, finding that those who were active were 20% less likely to be diagnosed with depression at the end of a two-year period.
Even better is that we don’t have to push ourselves to the limit to reduce our chances of depression – just three hours of exercise a week saw participants significantly reduce the risk of a depression diagnosis. All forms of activity contributed to this three-hour quota, including running, yoga, dance, strength training and stretching.
Previous research suggests several potential reasons for the positive impact that physical exercise can have on our mental health, including a reduction in inflammation, an increase of endorphins and dopamine and simply getting more sleep.
While seeking professional help is always recommended if you’re struggling with your mental health, it’s great to see yet more evidence that exercising can really make a difference.
Read more about running and mental health in WR cover star Bella Mackie’s book Jog On.