This type of exercise can reduce depression symptoms by 55%

According to a new study

August 26 2020

By now, we’re all aware that what we eat can majorly impact our mental wellbeing (processed sugars and fats are anxiety-inducing, while fibre-rich foods can stop stress in its tracks). But what you probably don’t know is that this also applies to exercise. Certain types are far more effective at making us feel good – at least, that’s according to new research out of Rutgers University.

For the study – published in the journal Psychological Medicine – associate professor Brandon Alderman recruited 66 patients with major depression for an eight-week trial. The patients were then split into two groups. One group did some form of moderate aerobic exercise daily (e.g. running) which was enough to alleviate their symptoms by 55 per cent. The other group participated in light-intensity stretching, which was shown to reduce their symptoms by 31 per cent.

Interestingly, Alderman identified a biomarker that may predict why exercise seemed to work for these patients in particular. They tended to have worse depression symptoms to start with and greater levels of reward processing in the brain.

These findings suggest that aerobic exercise – no matter how difficult - can help alleviate depression symptoms. What’s more, people with greater levels of reward processing may benefit from it most.

"Even light walking is beneficial for depression," Alderman says. "Our findings of a greater anti-depressant effect following moderate-intensity aerobic exercise relative to light stretching suggests that even greater benefits can be derived from more vigorous exercise."

Images via: Getty

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