Depression: Daily Exercise Routine Can Help Improve Your Mental Health

By Francis Tunwase

Recent research suggests that small amounts of exercise, like going for a walk, can greatly decrease the risk of depression. The greatest gains come from beginning to exercise after a period of being sedentary.

The CDC recommends about two and a half hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (such as a brisk walk) and a workout of all major muscle groups twice each week.

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Alternatively, a person can perform 1.25 hours of strength training each week in addition to aerobic activity, such as jogging. Half an hour a day of moderate to intense physical activity should be enough. It has been shown to be effective in treating insomnia, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, anxiety, depression, and stress.

However, many people’s schedules are too full to allow for a jog or a trip to the gym these days. Experts say that when depressive symptoms are added to the mix, a person’s motivation to exercise decreases even further.

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This meta-analysis, published in a scientific journal, analyzed data from 15 trials involving over 190,000 participants to find the optimal level of exercise for alleviating depression. A reduced incidence of depression of almost 20% was seen in the participants who exercised, equivalent to 1.25 hours of walking per week.

There was a 25% reduction in depression risk for those who increased their activity level to that of someone who walked briskly for 2.5 hours per week. The study found that the greatest gains occurred when people went from being sedentary to being more active throughout the day.

However, exercising beyond the advised amounts had no further positive effects.