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Exercising Just One Hour per Week May Reduce Risk of Depression

Depression is an increasingly common psychological problem in the West, with an estimated 6.9% of Americans facing at least one depressive episode every year. A recent study suggests that one hour of exercise per week may help combat the onset of depression.

Participants in the study included 33,908 Norwegians whose exercise levels and depression were monitored for more than 11 years, between January and June 1997. The participants reported their frequency of exercise at the beginning of the study, as well as the intensity. The intensity was broken down into three categories: exercise without getting breathless or sweaty, exercise that led to becoming breathless and sweaty, and exercise to exhaustion. Participants completed a self-reported questionnaire at a later follow-up in order to assess any anxiety or depression.

After adjusting for socio-economic and demographic factors, the researchers found that people who did no exercise at baseline had a 44% greater chance of developing depression than those who were exercising one to two hours weekly. There was no association noted between level of intensity and depression. However, the benefits from exercise did not extend to anxiety.

Researchers from King’s College London led the study. It was published online ahead of print on October 3, 2017, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for your health. Previous clinical studies suggest that even moderate exercise may help with blood sugar control, reduce body weight, improve heart health, improve respiratory health and reduce the risk of dying prematurely.

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