Can Exercise Prevent Depression?
The answer is YES!
Generally, the more a person exercises, the less likely they are to have depression.
Indeed exercise reduces the chances of depression by between 17-41% (consistent across different countries, ages and sexes). That’s a huge difference.
How Does Exercise Both Prevent and Treat Depression?
- Depression is associated with inflammation.
Regular exercise reduces inflammation.
- Depression is also associated with lower levels of BDNF (helps the brain grow and remodel). Regular exercise increases BDNF.
- Exercise is also associated with positive psychological changes.
It increases confidence, self-determination and often is social (all helpful for depression).
Consequently, the benefits of exercise are probably a combination of all three pathways.
As well as other areas we aren’t fully aware of … as yet!
Can Exercise Treat Existing Depression?
Yes Exercise can also improve depressive symptoms in people already with mild depression.
However (similar to other treatments), exercise is not a panacea and may not work equally for all, all of the time. But a valid option nonetheless.