Media Releases

Moderate exercise not only treats, but prevents depression

October 25, 2013

TORONTO, ON – Phys­i­cal activ­i­ty is being increas­ing­ly rec­og­nized as an effec­tive tool to treat depres­sion. PhD can­di­date George Mam­men’s review pub­lished in the Octo­ber issue of the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Pre­ven­tive Med­i­cine has tak­en the con­nec­tion one step fur­ther, find­ing that mod­er­ate exer­cise can actu­al­ly pre­vent episodes of depres­sion in the long term.

This is the first lon­gi­tu­di­nal review to focus exclu­sive­ly on the role that exer­cise plays in main­tain­ing good men­tal health and pre­vent­ing the onset of depres­sion lat­er in life.

Mammen—who is super­vised by Pro­fes­sor Guy Faulkn­er, a co-author of the review— ana­lyzed over 26 years’ worth of research find­ings to dis­cov­er that even low lev­els of phys­i­cal activ­i­ty (walk­ing and gar­den­ing for 20–30 min­utes a day) can ward off depres­sion in peo­ple of all age groups.

Mammen’s find­ings come at a time when men­tal health experts want to expand their approach beyond treat­ing depres­sion with cost­ly pre­scrip­tion med­ica­tion. “We need a pre­ven­tion strat­e­gy now more than ever,” he says. “Our health sys­tem is taxed. We need to shift focus and look for ways to fend off depres­sion from the start.”

Mam­men acknowl­edges that oth­er fac­tors influ­ence a person’s like­li­hood of expe­ri­enc­ing depres­sion, includ­ing their genet­ic make­up. But he says that the scope of research he assessed demon­strates that regard­less of indi­vid­ual pre­dis­po­si­tions, there’s a clear take-away for every­one. “It’s def­i­nite­ly worth tak­ing note that if you’re cur­rent­ly active, you should sus­tain it.  If you’re not phys­i­cal­ly active, you should ini­ti­ate the habit. This review shows promis­ing evi­dence that the impact of being active goes far beyond the phys­i­cal.”


For infor­ma­tion, con­tact:

Valerie Ian­covich
Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Spe­cial­ist
Fac­ul­ty of Kine­si­ol­o­gy and Phys­i­cal Edu­ca­tion
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Tel: 416–946-3713

George Mam­men, PhD Can­di­date
Health & Exer­cise Psy­chol­o­gy Unit
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Tel: 416–978-2736