Just one hour of exercise a week can be enough to prevent depression, a study found.
That much activity would be enough to prevent depression in 12% of cases, according to a large-scale study of Norwegian adults.
Scientists monitored levels of exercise and symptoms of depression and anxiety in almost 34,000 Norwegian adults over 11 years.
Results showed that people who reported doing no exercise at all at the start of the study were 44% more likely to develop depression than those exercising one to two hours per week.
Lead researcher Dr Samuel Harvey, from the Black Dog Institute at the University of New South Wales, Australia, said: ‘We’ve known for some time that exercise has a role to play in treating symptoms of depression, but this is the first time we have been able to quantify the preventative potential of physical activity in terms of reducing future levels of depression.
‘These findings are exciting because they show that even relatively small amounts of exercise – from one hour per week – can deliver significant protection against depression.
‘We are still trying to determine exactly why exercise can have this protective effect, but we believe it is from the combined impact of the various physical and social benefits of physical activity.
The team analysed data from the Health Study of Nord-Trondelag County, one of the largest health surveys ever undertaken, conducted in Norway between January 1984 and June 1997.
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