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Physical activity and exercise is increasingly recognized as an effective tool to pre-emptively treat depression. George Mammen, PhD candidate, has taken the connection one step further and found that moderate exercise can prevent episodes of depression in the long term.
His longitudinal study, the first of its kind, focuses exclusively on the role that exercise plays in maintaining good mental health and preventing the onset of depression later in life. Mammen analyzed over 26 years’ worth of research findings to discover that even low amounts of physical activity, simply gardening or walking for 20 to 30 minutes a day can prevent depression in people of all age groups.
“We need a prevention strategy now more than ever,” said Mammen. “Our health system is taxed. We need to shift focus and look for ways to fend off depression from the start.” More and more doctors are looking for ways to expand their approach beyond treating depression with costly prescription medications with a marginal chance of working. It is better to prevent the disease in the first place, than wait for it to happen and treat the symptoms later.
There is acknowledgment from Mammen that for some people, there is a genetic component to depression and this will influence a person’s likelihood of experiencing mental health challenges. Never the less, the scope of the research he studied shows that regardless of individual predispositions, exercise can help. “It’s definitely worth taking note that if you’re currently active, you should sustain it. If you’re not physically active, you should initiate the habit. This review shows promising evidence that the impact of being active goes far beyond the physical,” Mammen concluded.
Source: MedicalNewsToday, American Journal of Preventive Medicine
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