Can we protect ourselves from depression through exercise and exercise?
Many people around the world suffer from mental health problems and depression. Many of those affected are treated with strong medication, which can lead to undesirable side effects. Scientists have now found that even brief physical activity can protect against depression.
An international team of researchers with experts from King’s College London has determined that physical activity can protect against the onset of depression, regardless of age and geographic region. The doctors published the results of their study in the English-language journal "The American Journal of Psychiatry".
Data from 49 studies were evaluated
For the current investigation, the research team analyzed the data from a total of 49 unique cohort studies with participants who were initially free of mental illnesses. The doctors tried to find out whether physical activity was associated with a reduced risk of developing depression.
Survey included data from over 260,000 participants
A total of 266,939 subjects were included in the study. These consisted of 47 percent men and 53 percent women. On average, all of the participants were medically monitored over a period of 7.4 years. When the data was evaluated, doctors found that subjects with high levels of physical activity were less likely to develop depression compared to people who were less active. The physical activity had a protective effect against the occurrence of depression in adolescents, adults and the elderly, the experts explain.
Physically active people are at less risk of depression
"This is the first global meta-analysis to show that physical activity is useful for protecting the population from depression," says study author Professor Dr. Felipe Barreto Schuch of the Universidade La Salle in Brazil in a press release. The evidence is clear: more physically active people have a lower risk of developing depression. “We have examined whether these effects occur in different age groups and on different continents and the results are clear. Regardless of your age or where you live, physical activity can reduce the risk of developing depression later in life, ”added the expert.
Physical activity has many advantages
The robust analysis of over a quarter of a million people found consistent evidence that people who are more active will develop depression less often in the future, says study author Dr. Brendon Stubbs from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London. "In view of the multitude of other health benefits of physical activity, our data contribute to the urgent demands to prioritize physical activity over the entire lifespan," explains the doctor.
More studies are needed
The challenge is to ensure that this overwhelming evidence is translated into a meaningful policy change that creates environments and opportunities that motivate all people in society to become more physically active, the scientists say. Further studies are now needed to assess the minimum physical activity requirements and the effects of different types of activities and dosages on the later risk of depression. (as)