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One hour of exercise a week prevents depression
Years ago, scientific studies showed that sport works in a similar way to antidepressants. An international team of researchers has now found that regular exercise can not only improve the symptoms of depression, but can also prevent mental illness. One hour of exercise a week can therefore make a difference.
More and more people suffer from mental illnesses
According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people with depression has increased significantly worldwide. In Germany and the EU too, more and more people suffer from mental illness. According to the German Depression Aid, over five million people in Germany suffer from unipolar depression in need of treatment every year. These diseases are "among the most common and most underestimated diseases in terms of their severity", the experts write on their website. An international team of researchers is now reporting on how to prevent an illness: through regular exercise.
Exercise helps against depression
It has long been known that sport helps against depression.
A training program against depression was introduced years ago at German clinics such as the Hannover Medical School (MHH).
Researchers have now found in an investigation that sport can also prevent depression.
Most comprehensive study of its kind
As reported by the international team of scientists headed by the Australian Black Dog Institute in the specialist journal "American Journal of Psychiatry", just one hour of exercise a week is enough to significantly reduce the risk of illness.
The benefits from sport are independent of gender and age.
For the largest and most extensive study of its kind to date, data from 33,908 Norwegian adults were analyzed. The athletic activities and symptoms of depression were observed over a period of eleven years.
Even small amounts of exercise are enough
According to a communication from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, it turned out that twelve percent of the depression could have been prevented if the participants had only been physically active for one hour a week.
"We have known for some time that physical exercise has a role in treating symptoms of depression, but this is the first time that we have been able to use the preventive potential of physical activity in reducing future levels to quantify depression, ”said research director Professor Samuel Harvey of the Black Dog Institute and the UNSW.
"These findings are exciting because they show that even relatively small amounts of exercise - from one hour a week - can provide significant protection against depression."
“We are currently trying to research exactly why sport has this protective effect. However, we believe that the combined effects of different physical and social benefits are critical, ”said Harvey, according to a report from the Black Dog Institute.
Data from the HUNT study evaluated
The researchers evaluated data from the Health Study of Nord-Trøndelag County (HUNT study) - one of the largest and most comprehensive population-based health surveys ever conducted between January 1984 and June 1997.
At the time, the test subjects were asked to indicate how often and to what extent they did sport. In the further course of the study, they were also asked to answer questions about the occurrence of anxiety and depression.
Variables that can influence the connection between sport and common mental illnesses were also taken into account.
These included socio-economic and demographic factors, drug use, body mass index (BMI), the first occurrence of mental illness and the social support received.
Depression risk reduced by over 40 percent
The researchers found that study participants who said they did not exercise were 44 percent more likely to develop depression than those who did one to two hours of exercise a week.
However, it was also shown that this protective effect did not develop with feelings of fear.
According to the information, no connection could be made between the extent and intensity of sport and the likelihood of becoming ill.
"The clearest benefits of exercise for mental health were demonstrated in the first hour of exercise per week," said Professor Harvey.
According to the scientists, the results are of great importance as people around the world spend more and more time sitting and the number of depressions increases. Even a small change in lifestyle could bring benefits. (ad)