It’s general knowledge that exercising is beneficial for health and overall wellbeing. Here’s another reason to exercise for 60 minutes a day: a study by the Black Dog Institute has revealed that regular exercise of any intensity can prevent depression. Published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, the research showed that the mental health benefits affected all ages and genders.
The researchers used data from the Health Study of Nord-Trøndelag County, in which more than 30,000 Norwegian adults were monitored for 11 years. The team analysed levels of exercise and symptoms of depression and anxiety reported, and discovered that people who did no exercise were 44 per cent more likely to develop depression compared to those who exercised one to two hours a week. “These findings are exciting because they show that even relatively small amounts of exercise … can deliver significant protection against depression,” says associate professor Samuel Harvey from Black Dog, who was the study’s lead author. “If we can find ways to increase the population’s level of physical activity even by a small amount [it’s] likely to bring substantial physical and mental health benefits.”
Additional research from the Center for Neural Science at New York University found that just one training session could aid your mood, memory, attention, reaction times and even creativity. “Neurophysiological and neurochemical changes show that widespread brain areas and brain systems are activated after exercise,” says principal investigator Wendy Suzuki.
The study demonstrates that aerobic exercise has profound effects on brain chemistry and physiology. The behavioural effects of a single exercise “intervention” include improved executive function, enhanced mood and decreased stress levels. The results are a big step toward understanding how the positive impact of exercise may accrue over time to cause long-lasting changes in the brain. “Exercise interventions are currently being used to help address everything from cognitive impairments in normal ageing, minimal cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease to motor deficits in Parkinson’s disease and mood states in depression,” Suzuki says.
So, whether it’s a swim, speed golf or the samba, be sure you step it up soon.