While prior research has found that exercise goes a long way in boosting your mood, a new scientific review suggests that regular activity can even prevent episodes of depression.
Researchers from the University of Toronto analyzed more than 26 years' worth of research on the subject, finding that low levels of physical activity, such as walking and gardening for 20-30 minutes a day, can ward off depression in people of all age groups, regardless of one's individual predisposition toward depression.
Findings, announced Monday, appear online in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Researcher George Mammen, a PhD candidate working under the helm of study coauthor Dr. Guy Faulker, says that the findings come at a time when mental health professionals are searching to expand their approach to mental health beyond writing prescriptions. "We need a prevention strategy now more than ever," he said. "Our health system is taxed. We need to shift focus and look for ways to fend off depression from the start."
He adds: "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."