Moderate exercise – walking and gardening for 20 to 30 minutes a day – can prevent episodes of depression in the long term, scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have found.
Researchers from the University of Toronto carried out the first longitudinal review to focus exclusively on the role that exercise plays in maintaining good mental health and preventing the onset of depression later in life.
PhD candidate George Mammen's review was supervised by Professor Guy Faulkner, a co-author of the research.
The review analysed over 26 years' worth of research findings to discover that even low levels of physical activity (walking and gardening for 20-30 minutes a day) can ward off depression in people of all age groups.
Mammen acknowledged that other factors influence a person's likelihood of experiencing depression, including their genetic makeup.
But the scope of research assessed demonstrates that regardless of individual predispositions, there's a clear take-away for everyone, he said.
“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,” he said.
The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.