(WXYZ) – We all know we need to exercise for a healthy heart and body. But now, it may benefit your mind by curbing your risk for depression.
It may surprise you how little exercise you need to do. Almost 34,000 Norwegian adults were followed for roughly 11 years.
Everyone was healthy and free from anxiety or depression symptoms at the start. When researchers followed up, they found those who did not exercise were 44 percent more likely to become depressed when compared to those who did exercise.
And how much did these folks exercise? One to two hours a week.
The intensity level the participants engaged in may pleasantly surprise you. The researchers found you didn’t have to work out like a warrior and get sweaty, breathless or fatigued.
Low-intensity levels of exercise were just as protective as moderate or vigorous exercise.
We don’t know for sure why exercise helps, but scientists think it could be a combination of several things.
Mood-boosting endorphins get released, self-esteem improves and you also benefit from social interaction and support. Together, these can make a real impact.
Depression can be a serious mental health condition and there are other self-care steps you can take so here’s today’s prescriptions:
1. Watch your stress. It’s a risk factor for depression so learn to let go of what you can’t control, and try managing stress with meditation or mindfulness.
2. Build a tribe you can regularly connect with. It can be family or friends. It’s a strong support system you can lean on when times get tough.
3. Aim to get 150 minutes of exercise a week for overall good health. Walk, bike, dance, garden or hit a yoga class. It doesn’t matter what it is – just get movement into your daily life.
4. If you suspect you have depression, which is persistent sadness or feelings of hopelessness, then get help early. Don’t wait as you want to prevent it from worsening.
Exercise can help you recover if you have depression. But it’s important to talk to your doctor as you may need medication and counseling as well.
Depression is treatable and not something you should be ashamed of or feel you need to hide.
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