People who regularly exercise are well aware of the endorphin rush that follows a good workout. Scientists are increasingly recognizing that physical activity is an effective way to treat depression. George Mammen, PhD candidate at Toronto University, has recently published a review further exploring the relationship between depression and exercise. Not only is exercise effective at treating depression, Mammen has found that regular moderate exercise is successful at preventing it as well. This longitudinal review is the very first of its kind. It exclusively focuses on the part exercise plays in maintaining good mental health as well as in preventing depression. Professor Guy Faulkner, who supervises Mammen and co-authored the study, is a professor of Kinesiology and Physical education at Toronto University. By analyzing over 26 years of research findings, Mammen discovered that even small amounts of exercise and physical activity, such as gardening for 30 minutes every day, is extremely helpful in
warding off depression in people of all ages. Mammen’s research is particularly beneficial at this time in medical history because mental health experts are seeking ways to treat depression other than with costly antidepressants. Mammen explained that, “We need a prevention strategy now more than ever. Our health system is taxed. We need to shift focus and look for ways to fend off depression from the start.” In the review, Mammen acknowledges that there are other factors, for example genetic makeup, that are influential in an individual’s likelihood to develop depression. Yet despite these other factors, a wide enough range of research was explored to confidently say, regardless of predisposition, “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.” This review was published in the October
issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.