“Exercise and The Prevention of Depression: Results of the HUNT Cohort Study” was published by the American Journal of Psychiatry in the January 2018 issue. MHConcierge has reported frequently on studies like this, but this one is notable for a couple of reasons:

  • the study was a perspective study which followed 33,908 (!) adults for 11 years. The subjects were initially “healthy,” without current symptoms of depression or anxiety.
  • The study was designed to specifically research whether exercise provides protection against new-onset depression and anxiety, and if so what “dose” of exercise is required to gain protection.
  • The results find that regular leisure-time exercise was associated with reduced incidence of future depression, but not anxiety.
  • Perhaps most the most interesting finding is that at least one hour of physical activity per week was found to have a protective effect. And, “the majority of this protective effect occurred at low levels of exercise and observed regardless of intensity.”

MHConcierge’s take: this research builds on previous research about the mental health benefits of regular, but low-level, exercise. It supports the benefits of therapists asking their patients about their exercise/activity level, and helping them with a “doable” exercise/activity plan.

The abstract is available for free online. The full article is available online for $35.

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