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A new study has revealed that a modest amount of exercise - as little as an hour a week - can significantly reduce your chance of becoming depressed.
The research - published in the American Journal of Psychiatry - found 12 per cent of depression cases could have been prevented if just one hour of physical activity was undertaken each week.
"It's not a huge change to our life style," Josie Anderson, the clinical director at the Sydney-based Black Dog Institute - which carried out the research - told 1 NEWS.
The study took data from 33,908 Norwegian adults who had their levels of exercise and symptoms of depression monitored over 11 years.
It revealed that it made no difference if the hour of exercise was done in one go or spread across the week, and it didn't need to be strenuous.
"It doesn't have to be anything major," Moira Clooney from the NZ Mental Health Foundation told 1 NEWS.
"You don't have to climb the mountain or run a marathon. Just getting outside can have a huge benefit . That's really encouraging."
The role exercise can play to prevent and treat depression is widely known but this study is considered a first.
"This is the first time we have been able to quantify the preventative potential of physical activity in terms of reducing future levels of depression,” says lead author Associate Professor Samuel Harvey from Black Dog Institute.
According to the Ministry of Health one in seven, or about 650,000 New Zealand adults, are physically active for less than 30 minutes per week.
The research suggests if they were to get out for a short daily walk 15,000 people could avoid becoming depressed.
"Depression is very debilitating and it causes a lot of days lost from work, so [exercise] has a lot of benefits for the individual and their families but also for the public at large," says Josie Anderson.
- By 1 NEWS Reporter Tarek Bazley
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