Exercise Can Prevent Depression, Not Just Ease Symptoms

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Exercising regularly may prevent depression symptoms, according to a new study. Though previous studies have suggested that exercise can curb depression, few have actually proved that the mental illness can be prevented altogether by such a simple effort. Women, especially, have an advantage in exercising in order to ward off worsening mental health.

Researchers studied 10 years worth of data from women between the ages of 42 and 52. Almost 3,000 women were studied who filled out a questionnaire regarding depressive symptoms and levels of physical activity.

Women who were meeting public health recommendations for physical activity (150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise) reported fewer depression symptoms. Women who were more physically active were less likely to report symptoms altogether.

“Given the high prevalence of depression in the United States, particularly for women, exercise is still not considered a first-line treatment option, even though exercise can be of low cost and low risk, can be sustained indefinitely, and has additional benefits for multiple aspects of physical health and physical function,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers added that motivating middle-age women to maintain some level of moderate exercise could be a preventative way to ward off depression. Even still, the scientists argued that some activity is better than none at all. This information is especially vital since a 2014 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study reported that middle-age women have the highest risk for depression, more than any other age group in America.

The study added that there are additional emotional health benefits to exercise including improved cognitive functioning, controlled addiction and lower stress and anxiety.

The study was published in the February 2015 version of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Source: The Huffington Post / Photo Credit: Flickr

 
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