The Doctors are pleased to share news from The New York Times which reported how being active may help protect you from feeling depressed. Past studies have made a connection between staying active and feeling happier and less likely to feel depressed or anxious, but the new study is reportedly the first to show how exercise can drop someone's depression risk.
According to a report published in JAMA Psychiatry, a large study examined a database of 400,00 people's genetic and health information and used the process of Mendelian randomization -- which the NYT describes as when "scientists zero in on small snippets of genes that vary from person to person... these variants are passed out before birth and do not change afterward, they are not altered by upbringing" -- to examine how exercise may affect someone's risk for depression.
The study found that individuals who had at least one of several gene variants thought to increase the likelihood of leading an active lifestyle had much lower incidence of depression and people who did not have the same gene variants linked to staying active had a greater risk for depression.
A deeper look at the data reportedly found the amount of time needed to reduce someone's risk of depression. According to the study, just 15 minutes of strenuous exercise like running lowered someone's risk, and less strenuous activities like brisk walking, working around the house, or gardening lowered someone's risk for depression after an hour.
The NYT notes depression is linked to numerous factors beyond someone's genetic makeup, but psychiatric genetics expert Dr. Karmel Choi, who led the study, says the new research is "strong evidence" that staying active regardless of your genetics can help protect someone from the risk of becoming depressed.
The Doctors are here to help inspire you on your fitness journey! Find out one of the easiest ways you can stay active (while also hopefully boosting your mood), the type of exercise to do if you wake up and still feel tired, and how to change your negative feelings about exercise once and for all.