Regular Exercise Protects Against Depression

Regular Exercise and Depression

According to a recent study, a single hour of regular exercise can help people avoid depression. The intensity of the exercise is not even an issue.

This data informing the encouraging conclusion was collected from nearly 34,000 adults in Norway in a study that took over a decade to conclude. The scale of this study is just as intriguing. But all along, it was known that exercise could treat the symptoms of depression. In fact, the lead author of the study, Professor Samuel Harvey, confirmed this. This study has simply helped put a figure on the general observation that exercise reduced chances of suffering from depression.

What is Depression?

Depression is a critical health issue that affects the way people feel, think and even act. Sufferers feel sad and lose interest in things that once intrigued them. Some of its more serious symptoms include loss of appetite, insomnia, lack of sleep, and even suicidal thoughts.

Before someone is said to have depression, these symptoms, and others, have to be present for a minimum of two weeks. About 16.6% of people are expected to suffer depression at some time in their lives, and it mostly affects teenagers and young adults in their mid-20s. Women are also more likely to suffer from depression than men.

regular exercise can help prevent depression.
Regular exercise can help prevent depression. Image by skeeze from Pixabay

The problem is actually a very serious global mental health issue. WHO (World Health Organization) argues that depression is the most common disease in the world as an estimated 350 million people are dealing with depression around the globe.

The Findings of the Study

The study found that a relatively small amount of physical exercise (1 hour) was enough to reduce the potential for depression in future. Even more promising was the finding that the exercise did not have to be too intense. Mild and moderate exercise still offers these health benefits with regard to depression.

During the study, the impact of mild, moderate, and intense exercise was evaluated. Working out for more than an hour had added benefits as far as preventing depression was concerned. However, the positive effects of exercise on depression were mostly seen over the first hour of exercise.

The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, also showed that the effects were witnessed regardless of gender and age. These findings appear ironclad as the study took into consideration issues like substance abuse, age, gender, BMI, and other factors that might have a significant impact on incidences of depression among participants.

How Exercise is Linked to Good Mood

It is still not very clear how exercise, however mild, can have such a profound effect on the occurrence of depression. But the researchers speculate that exercise provides physical benefits that keep symptoms of depression at bay.

Additionally, working out has considerable social benefits that might help prevent depression. In, there is good guidance about weight lifting and cardio exercises that will substantially help to uplift mood, reduce anxiety and gradually completely eradicate the symptoms of depression.

Why Lack of Exercise Can Increase Likelihood of Depression

The highlight of this study was without a doubt the revelation that depression can be prevented by exercising. However, the study also helped explain why lack of exercise might be the reason why more people suffer from depression.

In fact, the researchers found that those who did not exercise at all had a 44% greater likelihood of becoming depressed than those who exercised for at least an hour a week. Also, as much as 12% of depression cases can be prevented by working out for an hour each week.


As WHO estimates indicate, depression is the mental health issue affecting the greatest number of people in the world. And despite working out becoming something of a fad around the world, a sedentary lifestyle is pretty much still the norm.

Therefore, it is encouraging to see that even an hour of physical activity or even ideally regular exercise a week can help people avoid this serious mental health issue. That is because many people reluctant to commit to an active lifestyle should certainly find an hour of exercise a week tolerable; if only as a way to keep off depression.

The motivation to do so should even be greater with the knowledge that this hour contains most of the depression-prevention benefits exercise has to offer. Just 1 hour of exercise a week separates many people from the likelihood of suffering from depression in future – and that is groundbreaking.

Matthew Stathis
Matthew Stathis is a blogger and digital marketer who has been free of the nine-to-five rat race since 2010 when he built his first online business. He closely follows the advances in the area of health and technology and enjoys reporting on things we didn't know before. When he doesn't work on his businesses, chances are he is wearing a backpack traveling around the world.