Lifestyle

Physical Activity Can Be A Powerful Tool Against Depression

“Using genetic data, we found evidence that higher levels of physical activity may causally reduce risk for depression."

Depression is a real mental disorder, affecting a lot of people all over the world. Treatments for depression usually involve medication, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or a combination of these approaches. On top of that, a new study suggests that there is a much easier way that can be a powerful tool against depression.

While everyone knows that regular physical activity is good for our bodies, more evidence is emerging that points to exercise as an effective way to foster healthy minds. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital used a technique called Mendelian randomization to study genetic variants and see if certain factors are associated with a higher or lower risk of disease.

The study suggests that the more we do a physical activity the more we protect ourselves from the risk of depression. The activities of the participants were measured by accelerometers, wrist-worn devices that measure movement.

Lead author Karmel Choi, PhD., said:

“Using genetic data, we found evidence that higher levels of physical activity may causally reduce risk for depression. Knowing whether an associated factor actually causes an outcome is important because we want to invest in preventive strategies that really work.”

The research is significant because depression is deemed the leading worldwide cause of disability. While there are a lot of well-known coping techniques, exercise may be the one most recommended by health care professionals.

Choi likewise added that “any activity” is actually considered good since their calculations tell us that “replacing sitting with 15 minutes of a heart-pumping activity like running, or with an hour of moderately vigorous activity, is enough to produce the average increase in accelerometer data” which leads to decreased risks of depression.

Of course, it should also be pointed out that multiple studies in the past have also suggested that exercise can help with depression, anxiety, and stress. Regular physical activity can indeed serve as an effective prevention and intervention strategy for mental illness.

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