New Research Shows That Even Moderate Physical Activity Can Protect Against Depression

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A new study published in the journal JAMA Network Open has found that even moderate levels of physical activity can protect against depression in older adults. The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Limerick in Ireland, looked at data from over 7,000 older adults with and without chronic disease.

The researchers found that for every additional hour of physical activity per week, the risk of depressive symptoms decreased by 10%. And for every additional two hours of physical activity per week, the risk of major depression decreased by 17%.

These findings suggest that even a relatively small amount of physical activity can have a significant impact on mental health. The study’s lead author, Dr. Colm Laird, said that the findings “highlight the importance of physical activity for mental health, even at lower doses than previously thought.”

The study’s findings are in line with previous research that has shown that physical activity can help to prevent and treat depression. A 2018 study by the World Health Organization found that regular physical activity can reduce the risk of depression by up to 30%.

The benefits of physical activity for mental health are thought to be due to a number of factors. Physical activity can help to improve mood, reduce stress, and boost self-esteem. It can also help to improve sleep quality, which is another important factor in mental health.

If you are an older adult who is concerned about your risk of depression, talk to your doctor about increasing your physical activity. Even small amounts of activity can make a big difference.

Below are some tips for increasing your physical activity:

  • Start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you spend being active.
  • Find activities that you enjoy and that fit into your lifestyle.
  • Set realistic goals and track your progress.
  • Finding a workout buddy can help you stay motivated.

There are many different ways to be physically active. Some popular options include walking, swimming, biking, dancing, and gardening. You can also find many different fitness classes available in your community.

No matter what activity you choose, make sure to listen to your body and take breaks when you need them. Physical activity should be enjoyable and not a source of stress.

If you have any health concerns, talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program.


UL research reveals that lower levels of physical activity can protect against depression among older adults. University of Limerick. (2023, July 11).