Wednesday 6 November 2019 6:42 AM UTC
LONDON Nov 6: Physical activity can significantly reduce a person’s chances of experiencing depression even if they have a family history of it, a new study claims.
The team from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) examined the health records of close to 8,000 participants in the Partners Healthcare Biobank health programme and calculated genetic risk scores for patients who had received a diagnosis of depression.
While people with a higher genetic proclivity towards depression were more likely to be diagnosed with it, those that were more physically active were less likely to develop depression even in the face of highest genetic risk, the study found.
“Our findings strongly suggest that, when it comes to depression, genes are not destiny and that being physically active has the potential to neutralize the added risk of future episodes in individuals who are genetically vulnerable,” said Karmel Choi of MGH and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and lead author of the study.
“On average, about 35 additional minutes of physical activity each day may help people to reduce their risk and protect against future depression episodes.”
Both high-intensity forms of exercise, including aerobic fitness, dance and exercise machines, and low-intensity activities like yoga and stretching were linked to decreased odds of the depression, the study, published in the journal Depression and Anxiety, claimed.
Participants saw an overall 17 per cent reduction in the odds of experiencing a depressive episode for each additional four hours of exercise each week.
A separate Australian study from the University of New South Wales found an hour of moderate exercise each week could reduce the chances of becoming depressed.
The analysis, published in 2017, involved 33,908 Norwegian adults who had their levels of exercise and symptoms of depression and anxiety monitored over 11 years.
The researchers found that 12 per cent of cases of depression could have been prevented if participants undertook just one hour of physical activity each week.
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