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Know the Facts: Fighting Off Depression with Physical Activity

As the air begins to cool and the leaves begin to change, it is important to be aware that many people are more susceptible to depression during the fall and winter seasons. Women are twice as likely to suffer from depression than men, and teenage girls are especially susceptible to depression due to hormonal changes, but regular exercise can help protect from this disorder. It is well known that exercise helps to elevate one’s mood and create a sense of happiness, which benefits the body for both psychological and biochemical reasons. Our research report, Her Life Depends On It III, addresses this topic and finds out the truth between the relationship of physical activity and depression.

Here’s what we know:

– Engaging in moderate levels of exercise and/or sports activity helps protect girls and women against depression.

– Women who participate in physical activity as adolescents have better control over anxiety and depression.

– There is a decreased risk of depression when a person is physically active for more than 90 minutes a day and watches between five or fewer hours of television per week.

– Both female and male athletes are reportedly less likely than their nonathletic counterparts to seriously consider or make a plan for committing suicide.

– High school seniors who played sports three to six hours per week were less depressed than those who played less often. More frequent participation had no such protective effect, perhaps due to the detrimental effects of overtraining.

– Activity is composed of three levels (light, moderate and vigorous activity) and as long as you are moving your body that is what counts.

Engaging the body in movement is critical to keeping the body healthy mentally, physically and psychologically. The positive effects of exercise on depression apply to all generations, helping children, teens, young-adults, the middle-aged and the elderly. Depression is a treatable illness and adding physical activity to your daily routine is proven to have positive results. So, be sure to keep your body moving during these cool months.

Find more information on the symptoms of and treatment for depression at the National Institute of Mental Health.