Even the smallest dose of exercise, such as a short, brisk walk, can significantly lower the risk of depression, a new data meta-analysis study says.
According to a journal article published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry, 15 peer-reviewed studies on depression reduction and its association with exercise were examined that involved more than 190,000 people.
The analysis found that an average of 1.25 hours of walking each week led to an 18% chance in lowering the risk of depression compared with a person who didn't exercise.
“Most benefits are realized when moving from no activity to at least some,” the study authors wrote, adding that an "activity volume equivalent to 2.5 hours of brisk walking per week was associated with 25% lower risk of depression."
Recommended levels of exercise by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include an aerobic activity at moderate level such as a walk for 2.5 hours a week. It also includes a workout of all major muscle groups twice a week.
“Our findings therefore have important new implications for health practitioners making lifestyle recommendations, especially to inactive individuals who may perceive the current recommended target (of exercise) as unrealistic,” the authors wrote.