I’ve been sharing my thoughts about how exercise prevents depression symptoms for a while now. I’m not an expert in mental health. I’m a physical trainer, so please don’t take this as actual medical advice. That said, what I’m talking about here is the results of studies or what other experts have shared and that I’ve found valuable. In this case, it’s about research that shows even a small amount of physical activity seems to help prevent this common mental health struggle.
Even a Bit of Exercise Prevents Depression
I’ve long known that workouts make me feel happier. I also have every respect for celebrities like Ryan Reynolds who speak openly about mental health, particularly men’s mental health, since we seem to be a step behind in talking openly about it. But that’s a story for another day.
Today, I’m focusing on the difference a great workout can make in prevention and in symptoms reduction. According to new research, exercise prevents depression in a measurable way. Even better is that it doesn’t take a lot. Even starting with a bit of a workout can help to stave off symptoms.
Of course, this is not promising a cure for this mental health disorder. Nor does it mean that if you’re physically active, you’re immune. In fact, the researchers themselves acknowledge that no single study is enough to prove anything for certain.
However, since workouts are already good for you, knowing that even a bit of exercise prevents depression shows that you’ve got the chance to benefit in a lot of different ways. It’s not just about toning muscles or about heart health – which are obviously both important goals on their own.
What the Research Showed
The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry. It used data from 15 other population studies (prospective studies that tracked health outcomes, physical activity levels and any clinical depression history, right from the start), which provided the researchers with data from almost 200,000 people total.
What they found was that the people who reported being active on any level had a lower depression risk than those who didn’t repot being physically active. This didn’t really surprise the researchers because it’s long been acknowledged that exercise prevents depression symptoms in many ways.
However, what did surprise them was that even people who were only slightly active were still able to benefit when compared to those who were essentially inactive. This suggested to the researchers that even a small amount of exercise prevents depression. As a result, it’s worth researching whether recommendations can start being made about even small – more approachable – workouts as part of preventative measures.