Depression: Even small or low doses of exercise shown to help prevent condition – study

Depression: Even small or low doses of exercise shown to help prevent condition – study

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With the end of the bank holiday and the return to work, symptoms of depression for some may arise. Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. For some people it is a way of life but for others, they may experience bouts of depression occasionally. Whether or not you may suffer from the mood disorder, a new study has found the profound effects even just a little bit of exercise has on lifting one’s mood.

A study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, found that exercise, “at levels below the public health recommendations”, produced the most significant mental health benefits.

The latest research, published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, found the link to improved depression symptoms.

It noted that even minuscule changes such as a short walk around the block produced the strongest mental health improvements.

In the meta-analysis of 15 studies involving about 190,000 people, researchers sought to determine just how much exercise is needed to reduce depression.

“Our results show an inverse curvilinear association with the greatest differences in risk observed between low doses of physical activity, suggesting most benefits are realized when moving from no activity to at least some,” the report said.

During exercise the body systems respond immediately to provide energy for the muscles to work.

After regular and repeated exercise, these systems adapt to become more efficient.

In terms of the psychological benefits, regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, and ADHD.

It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood.

“Assuming causality, one in nine cases of depression might have been prevented if everybody in the population was active at the level of current health recommendations,” the study concluded.

The study’s findings are good news for inactive people who view the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation as being unrealistic, researchers said.

Therefore, health practitioners should encourage any increase in physical activity to improve mental health — no matter how small, researchers said.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches.

Regular exercise can boost your mood if you have depression, and it’s especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression.

“Any type of exercise is useful, as long as it suits you and you do enough of it,” said Doctor Alan Cohen, a GP with a special interest in mental health.

“Exercise should be something you enjoy; otherwise, it will be hard to find the motivation to do it regularly.”

For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 116 123 or visit a local Samaritans branch.

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