Exercise Helps Fight Off Depression
04 Mar, 2011 - 09:57am
Incidences of depression are increasing by leaps and bounds in today’s life. Researches are being carried out all over the world to understand depression. One such study was carried out by the researchers from King’s College London and University of Bergen. The main purpose of this study was to establish a link between physical activity and lowering of mental health problems.
The research was executed among people from 20 to 89 years of age living in Norwegian county between 1995 and June 1997. There were 40,401 participants in the study. All these participants were clinically examined. The levels of their physical activity were assessed by enquiring them on the number of times they were occupied in light free time activity that did not lead to sweat or breathlessness and intense leisure-time physical activity that lead to breathlessness or sweating. The reply options were specified as ‘none’, ‘less than one hour a week’, ‘one to two hours a week’, or ‘more than three hours a week’.
The participants were also inquired on their physically activity at their work place and the response options were ‘mostly sedentary’, ‘required to walk a lot’, ‘walk and lift a lot’, or ‘intense physical work’. Participant’s depression and anxiety were measured utilising a self-report scale called the Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) scale, which asked about their depression symptoms in the previous two weeks. On collection of the required data the researchers then compared the probability of depression, anxiety or both throughout the different exercise categories.
From all participants, 10% and 15% had symptoms of depression and anxiety, respectively. There was 5.6% of the total study population having symptoms of both anxiety and depression. The study results showed that the greater levels of free-time activity were associated to lower risk of depression. Moreover it was also observed that neither depression nor anxiety was related with their workplace activity. However the relationship between leisure-time activity and depression was reduced when the researchers adjusted for additional factors like cholesterol levels, blood glucose, friend circle etc.
According to the researchers, the study observed an inverse association between leisure-time physical activity and depression. The symptoms of depression were more frequent in people who had no leisure-time physical activity. However, the study cannot prove whether exercising more leads to less depressive symptoms or that people who are more depressed are less likely to exercise. On the whole, this study increases the grounds that exercise is beneficial for mental health. Doctors should ask their patients to do more exercise when a patient is depressed.