01/11/2010 10:47 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Exercise Helps Beat Depression - But Only If It's Fun

Experts have been advising us that exercise can help reduce the risk of depression for some time. But a new study suggests if there's a social element to your work-out - and you have fun while you're exercising - it has an even stronger effect on your mental health.

Fun exercise can boost mood Having fun while you work out can boost your mood. Photo: Flickr, mikebaird

According to statistics, depression is the most common mental health problem in the UK. Published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, the study involved 40,000 people who answered questions about how often they exercised and whether or not it was part of their work (for instance, if they had a physically demanding job) or they exercised in their leisure time.

Those who were active outside work were found to be twice as likely not to suffer from depression compared to others who weren't active, the researchers from the Institute of Psychiatry discovered.

However the social element is key, they claim. While many expert recommend exercise as a way to boost your mood, having a healthy social life is also believed to protect you against mental health problems. So as you might assume, when you put the two things together, the effect is even greater.

And there's more good news. The study suggests the intensity of the exercise doesn't make much difference when it comes to keeping depression at bay. In other words, you don't have to bust a gut to reap the benefits of exercise when it comes to boosting your mental health.

Do you feel in a better mood after exercise? What are your favourite ways of giving yourself a bit of a mental boost?

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