1 in 6 people in the UK have depression, to varying degrees. While it is one condition, people who have it will tell you it varies in symptoms and how it manifests day-to-day. I know for me, it’s at the moment laying quite low but earlier this year, I lost weeks at a time from just being completely numbed out by it. It’s great fun, really.
Another thing about depression is when you have it, much like other mental and physical ailments, you’re told to exercise to help it. Now, I’m not saying this doesn’t work, obviously it does but when you’re in the real pits of depression, it’s hard to motivate yourself to meet your basic needs, never mind exercising.
However, experts have found that when you’re not quite in the throes of depression, you can lower your odds of falling into deep depression by getting some regular exercise. It doesn’t cure, it’s not a miracle fix, it just helps a little and for a lot of us, that’s exactly what we need. Just a glimmer of hope.
How many minutes of exercise do you need to do to help mental health?
So, according to Dr Karmel W.Choi and her team of researchers, exercising for 35 minutes a day or four hours and five minutes per week, is enough to lower your odds for experiencing a new incidence of depression.
This correlates with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on physical activity: 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise a week for able-bodied adults.
OK, but how intense does this exercise have to be?
Obviously, exercise isn’t the most tantalising activity to many of us and while 30ish minutes a day might not seem like a lot, if you already don’t enjoy it, it will feel like a lifetime.
Thankfully, Harvard researchers found that both high and low-intensity workouts were equally effective at reducing your chances of a new depression incidence. This means that whether you fancy a run or a relaxing yoga session, your brain will thank you.
Help and support:
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).
- CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.
- The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email email@example.com
- Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on rethink.org.