STUDY: Working Out Makes You Happier
Break a sweat, beat the blues. Physical activity fights off depression, finds new research from Belgium.
In a study at Ghent University, the longer participants sat around doing nothing, the more their moods tended to become negative and self-judgmental. Why? Because during periods of rest, people spend more time thinking (and analyzing) themselves, which is a recipe for depression flare-ups, says study coauthor Igor Marchetti.
But exercise may fend off depression by balancing the transfer of hormones between the endocrine and nervous systems, Marchetti says. “Additionally, studies have found regular physical activity seems to improve self-esteem, self-confidence, and mood—all conditions that are protective factors for depression.”
And it doesn’t take much time to see the effects. In a study at the University of Texas, 28 percent of depressed people who worked out on a treadmill or stationary bike for 30 to 45 minutes, 3 to 4 times a week eliminated their symptoms. When another group exercised 2 to 3 times a week for just 20 to 30 minutes, 16 percent saw symptoms disappear.