One hour of exercise can prevent depression, study finds

There’s good news for those of us who find the idea of going to the gym more than once a week insurmountable. A new study found that you don’t need two-a-day bootcamps, daylong health retreats, or fancy equipment if you want to make a difference in your wellbeing — you just need an hour of physical activity every week.

The research on exercise

Analyzing the health and exercise habits of more than 33,000 adults over 11 years, a new American Journal of Psychiatry study found that an hour of exercise a week was enough to keep depression at bay. In fact, the researchers found that participants who did not exercise were 44% more likely to experience depression. Participants didn’t even need to break a sweat to reap the benefits. The researchers found that low levels of aerobic intensity were just as effective as the vigorous kinds.

This backs up other research that has come to the same conclusion: To keep our brains and bodies happy, we need to keep moving, even if it’s just adding a few more steps to our day. A 2017 study found that just adding 48 minutes of walking to your weekly routine could help prevent major mobility disabilities in the future.

Be like mice

It’s not just humans that can benefit from getting up and moving. In 2016, researchers noted that mice who got to run their hearts out on running wheels had more neurons than the mice who had to stay sedentary. The researchers for that study haven’t quite figured out how mice brains applies to our brains, but they are excited to remind us that “brain cells produced under running conditions are not just quantitatively but qualitatively different.”

What you should do

In a modern workplace, it’s all too easy to stay sitting in our cubicles. But what these studies shows that even when you’re busy with work and obligations, just getting up and moving around each day can make substantial changes in your wellbeing.