Recent depression research has shown that exercise can help manage and prevent depressive symptoms. But what about for individuals who have a genetic profile that puts them at a greater risk for depression? As it turns out, exercise still imparts mood-boosting benefits even for those with are genetically at risk for depression. A recent study has shown that individuals who had a higher number of genetic variants for depression were far more likely to experience a depressive episode. However, exercise was proven to prevent depression even in this high-risk group of individuals.
For those who do not get excited to jog around the block, all is not lost. This study showed that only 3 hours per week of gentle exercise was needed to produce an effect. That’s just 30 minutes per day, 6 times per week (or 45 minutes 5 times per week), of walking or yoga. This is not as daunting as it seems; a brisk 20 minute walk to and from work or an errand can achieve this depression-prevention benefit.
The key to beginning any exercise regimen is starting small and finding an activity you enjoy. If you currently do not exercise, consider starting with a 10 minute walk or stretch per day, and building up to the amount of time that brings you the greatest benefit. Setting small, attainable goals is the best way to reap the biggest rewards for your mood and health.