Physical Activity and Depression


The evidence for physical activity preventing depression, as well as being used to treat depression, is growing. Depression is a major health concern worldwide, including within the United States. Globally, 322 million people (which equates to 4% of the world's population) are estimated to be affected by depression (1). For more information on prevalence in the United States, see Box 1. Treatments for depression include antidepressant medications and psychotherapy; discussion of these, and other therapies, is beyond the scope of this article, and the reader is directed to the list of resources at the end of the article. A recent report revealed that approximately 35% of U.S. adults with a major depressive episode did not receive treatment (2). When considering the high prevalence of depression, along with situations in which there is no treatment or there are delays in treatment, the use of exercise to prevent and to treat mental disorders has been highlighted as promising (3). Cross-collaborations between exercise science and mental health professionals are needed to better clarify the potential benefit of exercise to prevent and treat mental disorders (3). In addition, other researchers examine what mechanisms are involved (see Box 2).



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ACSM's Health and Fitness Journal