Just a small amount of exercise could help prevent a depressive episode in up to 12 percent of cases, a new study has revealed.
The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, is the largest and most extensive of its kind, pooling data from 49 unique cohort studies over more than seven years.
It found that people with higher levels of physical activity were less likely to develop depression, regardless of age, nationality or lifestyle factors such as body mass index, smoking and physical health.
Report co-author Associate Professor Samuel Harvey from the Black Dog Institute and UNSW Sydney said the study was an international first.
“We’ve known for some time that exercise has a role to play in treating symptoms of depression,” said report co-author Associate Professor Samuel Harvey.
“But this is the first time we have been able to quantify the preventative potential of physical activity in terms of reducing future levels of depression.
“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.”
The report findings align with Black Dog Institute’s Exercise Your Mood initiative, which helps Australians develop strategies to incorporate physical activity into their daily routines to benefit mental health.
The report is published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.