For people worried about the risk of depression, getting plenty of exercise may help. New research shows how even those with a genetic risk of mental health issues could greatly benefit from all forms of exercise.
The study, published in the journal, Depression and Anxiety, analyzed data from nearly 8,000 people and found that people with a genetic predisposition were likely to be diagnosed with depression over the next two years.
However, it was also found that participants who were more active at the start of the study showed less risk of depression even though they had an inherited risk. Researchers noted that higher levels of physical activity helped to protect again the mental health issue.
The level of intensity and type of exercise didn’t seem to matter, as all kinds of movements were associated with the reduced risk. Participants that showed positive results against depression participated in both high-intensity exercise (such as dance, exercise machines, and aerobics) and lower intensity (such as stretching and yoga). No matter what type or intensity of exercise, it was concluded that adding four hours of exercise a week could lower the risk of a new episode of depression by 17%.
Genes Are Not Destiny
The lead author of the study was Karmel Choi. A clinical fellow in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, she spoke about the findings. “Our findings strongly suggest that, when it comes to depression, genes are not destiny and that being physically active has the potential to neutralize the added risk of future episodes in individuals who are genetically vulnerable,”
“On average, about 35 additional minutes of physical activity each day may help people to reduce their risk and protect against future depression episodes.”
Health care providers can use the findings to help patients learn that “there is something meaningful they can do to lower their risk even if they have a family history of depression,” Choi said.
Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and studies such as this give those who suffer effective strategies that help keep symptoms of mental illness at bay. Regular exercise is an excellent way to boost your mood and get in shape, so if you don’t already have a daily exercise plan, start by taking a walk every day to get your body moving.