While it has long been understood that there is an undeniable correlation between physical activity and resilience against mental health challenges, researchers have recently made the very first strides in terms of qualitatively validated evidence showing the impact of exercise on depression.
A recent study published by the Black Dog Institute non-profit organization showed that just one hour of active exercise on a weekly basis can be sufficient enough to substantially lower the chance of experiencing depressive symptoms down the line. Black Dog Institute’s study ran for a month and was supported by comprehensive contributions from prestigious institutions and universities in Norway, Australia and the United Kingdom.
Approximately 34,000 Norwegian adults were followed for over a decade in order to develop the data that was examined in the month-long examination carried out by Prof. Samuel Harvey, the study’s leader. The American Journal of Psychiatry published Black Dog’s results and showed that significant protection against depression could be gained just by devoting as little as 60 minutes a week to exercise. Conversely, another study demonstrated that failing to exercise it all increases the risk of suffering from worsened depressive symptoms.
The Nord-Trondelag Health Study (HUNT) examined data collected for a period of approximately 13 years (between 184 and 1997) to support its conclusion that less vigorous or non-existent exercise is correlated with a greater likelihood of experiencing anxiety and depression; these results are consistent even when controlling for confounding variables such as substance abuse and socioeconomic status.
The results of the HUNT study showed that those who failed to exercise at all were as much is 44 percent more likely to develop depressive symptoms than those with a consistent exercise routine. Though different people may have different levels of susceptibility the symptoms of depression and anxiety, it is safe to say that these studies provide more than enough merit in considering the potential of physical activity to foster a much better mental health prognosis overall.