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Exercise Might Prevent Depression In The Long Term

Update Date: Oct 28, 2013 04:44 PM EDT

Moderate exercise may prevent you from falling into a depression in the long term according to a new review.

"It's definitely worth taking note that if you're currently active, you should sustain it," Kinesiology and Physical Education PhD candidate George Mammen, said in a news release. "If you're not physically active, you should initiate the habit." 

Mammen adds, "This review shows promising evidence that the impact of being active goes far beyond the physical."

According to the University of Toronto, researchers have supported that exercise can fight off stroke, heart disease and cancer but the mental health benefits of it, specifically in the long term have not been studied. 

"Increasingly, evidence supports that exercise is an effective treatment for existing depression, Mammen said, but less work has been done on prevention," reports UT.

For the review, Mammen and supervisor Professor Guy Faulkner examined research that took 26 years to execute, from publications and scholars.

The reviewers found that low levels of exercise such as walking for at least 20-30 minutes per day can be beneficial in preventing depression for anyone.

"Mammen's findings come at a time when mental health experts want to expand their approach beyond treating depression with costly prescription medication," reports UT.

Researcher Mammen said that it is important to remember that genetic makeup does influence whether a person can become severely depressed but that according to his findings even though this may be true the research still proves that anyone is capable of preventing it for the long term.  

"We need a prevention strategy now more than ever," said Mammen. "Our health system is taxed. We need to shift focus and look for ways to fend off depression from the start."

The findings are published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine

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