20 minutes of daily exercise effective in battling chronic depression: Study

2023-07-11 20:08:38
20 minutes of daily exercise effective in battling chronic depression: Study

As little as 20 minutes of moderate activity a day for five days a week can significantly lower the risk of depressive symptoms for people over 50, a new study found.

The study, published on Monday in JAMA Network Open, found when people over 50 who suffer from conditions often linked to depression — such as diabetes, heart disease and chronic pain — exercised, the activity reduced their depressive symptoms.

The research, which followed more than 4,000 Irish adults with an average age of 61 for a decade, found if adults suffering from the conditions linked to depression exercised at least 20 minutes a day, five times a week, their symptoms improved.

However, people in the study suffering from depression but without an accompanying chronic disease needed moderate to vigorous exercise two hours daily for symptoms to ease.

There was noticeable improvement in depressive symptoms for those participants who did so, according to lead study author Eamon Laird, a researcher at the Physical Activity for Health Research Centre at the University of Limerick in Ireland.

Study participants came from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, and were evaluated every two years

The study found people who exercised for 20 minutes a day, five days a week, had a 16% lower rate of depressive symptoms next to the 43% risk faced by those who didn’t work out at all.

The authors also noted the overall rate of depression in Ireland had risen overall from 8% to 10% over the 10 years in which the study had taken place.

They added that in the same period antidepressant use in the European nation increased from about 6% to 10% and exercise rates declined around 10% overall.

The fact that working out helps ease depression symptoms is not new, although the importance of the time spent exercising hadn’t been previously established.

In February, a study published by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found regular exercise may be more effective than medication for the treatment of mental illness, including depression.

“Physical activity is known to help improve mental health. Yet despite the evidence, it has not been widely adopted as a first-choice treatment,” lead researcher Dr. Ben Singh said in a statement at the time.


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