Exercising Daily Could Alleviate Risk of Depressive Symptoms And Major Depression, Study Finds

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A recent study carried out by experts in physical activity and mental health from the University of Limerick and Trinity College Dublin revealed that engaging in moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, for just 20 minutes per day for five days a week can lower the risk of depressive symptoms and the likelihood of experiencing major depression.

Depression associated with other chronic issues

Depression is a growing issue among older adults, and it is associated with various health risks such as cognitive decline, chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, increased suicide risk and even death. For instance in Europe, depression contributes to a significant portion of disease burden. On the other hand in the US alone, it is estimated to cost over $210.5 billion. It is important to prioritize the identification of affordable and accessible health and lifestyle interventions that can help reduce the risk of depression.

Past studies show that moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can improve depressive symptoms. Lead study author Dr Eamon Laird cautions that there is no consensus on the level of physical activity that is beneficial for depression or how it varies in older individual’s with disease. For the current study the researchers used the ten-year Irish Longitudinal Study On Aging data that included information on moderate to vigorous physical activity, depression and other health-related factors like socio-economic status, lifestyle factors and disease.

Moderate-to-vigorous exercise protects against depression

The latest study sought to determine if moderate-to-vigorous amount of exercise was beneficial in protecting against depression symptoms and major depression, taking into account existence of chronic disease.

Results indicate that daily exercise of around 20 minutes like brisk walking can reduce depressive symptoms by 16%and there is a 43% chance of lowering major depression. Also the study found that here was a dose-response effect with higher levels of physical activity associated with enhanced protection against depression. Around 30 minutes of MVPA per day reduced depressive symptoms by 7% and lowered odds of major depression by 41%.

Interestingly, these findings remained significant even after considering factors such as biological sex, age, education, smoking and alcohol habits, , antidepressant use, obesity, and time.

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