Is Exercise the Key to Depression Prevention?

It can change your mood, give you energy and get your heart racing, but can exercise also prevent depression? That’s the findings of a new study published in a recent issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

While going for a good run or taking a yoga class may help to redirect negative feelings, anger, or even the blues, the study found the more exercise you do, the less likely you may be to experience depression.

Nearly 3,000 women between the ages of 42 and 52 were surveyed for the study. Researchers looked at their fitness levels and their depression symptoms. According to the Huffington Post: “women who met the standard public health recommendations for physical activity showed fewer signs of depression, when compared to inactive women. And the more physical activity a woman logged, the less likely she was to have depression symptoms, suggesting that moderate-intensity levels of exercise may be protective against the mental illness.”
Of course, exercise can’t trump genetics and serious mental health issues, but it certainly can play a part in boosting mental health. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “middle-age women have the highest rate of depression than any other age group in the United States,” reports the Post. “This could partly be due to the fact that many people don't seek treatment for the illness -- according to the CDC report, only 35 percent of people with severe depression saw a mental health professional within the last year.”

But nonetheless, the research is promising, particularly for women in middle age. That doesn’t mean you have to join the most expensive gym and commit to a 2-hour workout every day. Even a 30-minute brisk walk or bike ride can have a mood-altering effect. That can be a commute, an errand or for leisure.

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