June 9, 2022

Analysis: Even small amounts of exercise help lower depression risk

By: Tarsilla Moura

Editor's Note

A systematic review and meta-analysis published in JAMA Psychiatry on April 13 shows that even small amounts of low-intensity physical activity can decrease risk of depression among adults, JAMA Network June 7 reports.

The analysis included 15 cohort studies comprising 191,130 participants. The researchers estimated that if adults followed current physical activity recommendations—the equivalent of 2.5 hours of brisk walking every week, according to the article—11.5% of depression cases could be prevented.

Compared with inactive adults:

  • People who did half the recommended amount of physical activity had an 18% lower risk of depression.
  • People who did all the recommended amount of physical activity had a 25% lower risk.

Interestingly, “higher-intensity physical activity had only minor additional benefit for reducing depression risk,” JAMA noted.


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