One hour of exercise a day to prevent depression
Australian scientists conducted an observational study of nearly 34,000 people. They estimate that 12% of cases of depression could have been avoided.
The conclusion of a study published by the journal American Journal of Psychiatry: One hour of physical activity each week, no matter how intense, can help prevent depression. Research conducted by a team of researchers from the University of New South Wales, Australia, and other international institutions. 33 908 people in Norway were followed for 11 years, between 1984 and 1997.
While the World Health Organization estimates that more than 300 million people suffer from depression, the study shows that even a small amount of exercise can protect our mental health. Scientists analyzed the cohort data to assess the potential influence of various factors (socio-economic, demographic, alcohol, drug, weight, disease, loved ones) on the risk of depression and anxiety. As a result, people who did not play sports were 44% more likely to develop depression than those who did one to two hours of exercise per week.
A small change in lifestyle
Most mental health benefits occur from the first hour of weekly sport, regardless of intensity. "As sedentary lifestyles become the norm around the world and rates of depression increase, these results are particularly relevant as they point out that even small lifestyle changes can have significant beneficial effects on mental health." explains Professor Samuel Harvey, lead author of this work.
Researchers estimate that about 12% of cases of depression could have been avoided in the cohort if participants had practiced at least one hour of physical activity per week. However, no protective effect has been observed with regard to anxiety, and further work needs to be done to verify the cause-and-effect relationship.