How can we protect ourselves from depression?
Physicians have now found some concrete evidence that even a little exercise a day reduces symptoms of depression and increases general mood.
The Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) scientists found in their current investigation that exercise and physical activity help against depression. The experts published the results of their study in the English-language journal "JAMA Psychiatry".
Sport makes you happy
Various studies have already found a connection between exercise training and lowering the risk of depression. Exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy. So far, however, there has been no evidence of a causal relationship in depression. It was unclear whether physical activity actually affected the condition or whether people with depression were simply doing less exercise. The researchers found that exercise training is beneficial for people with depression and have found no evidence that depression affects exercise ability.
More and more people suffer from depression
The results could help doctors, medical professionals, and scientists develop prevention strategies for the growing number of people who are fighting depression symptoms. Increased activity seems to protect against the development of depression, explains study author Dr. Carmel Choi from Massachusetts General Hospital. Every physical activity seems to be better than none, say the experts. The calculations suggest that replacing sitting with 15 minutes of more physical activity, such as running or an hour of moderately vigorous activity, is sufficient to reduce the risk of depression.
What influence do our genes have?
Both depression and physical activity can be influenced by our genes, which is why the scientists focused on the genes in their study. Some people are naturally sportier, others are more prone to depression, the doctors explain. This factor can be stabilized by genomic data. In this way it can be determined whether people with depression are simply less active or whether this is not the case.
What results have been achieved?
Two data pools of results were found for physical activity in the study: 377,000 people had indicated their own physical activity. In addition, 91,000 people wore so-called fitness trackers to monitor their movement. These data were compared to genetic tests. The evaluation showed: There was no connection between self-reported activity and lower depression rates. The data analysis of the fitness trackers, on the other hand, showed that those who exercised regularly had fewer depression symptoms. How can this difference be explained? Memories of self-reported activity are not always accurate. In addition, many movements in everyday life, such as climbing stairs or the way to the subway, are not considered a sporting activity by those affected. A fitness tracker also takes these activities into account.
How can people be motivated to do more sport?
It is one thing to know that physical activity can be beneficial in preventing depression. It's another thing to get people to be physically active, Choi explains. More needs to be done to find out how best to recommend the recommendations for increased activity to different types of people with different risk profiles. Scientists are currently examining whether and to what extent physical activity can benefit different risk groups, for example people who are genetically susceptible to depression or those who suffer and hope from stressful situations. We hope to develop a better understanding of physical activity to promote resilience to depression, the study author adds. (as)