Exercise May Help Ward Off Depression

November 25, 2019

A new study shows that even in people who are genetically predisposed to illness, exercising for a few hours a week can reduce the risk of depression.

The authors found that although some genes increase the risk of depression in people, increasing exercise levels can basically offset this genetic risk.

Overall, in the next two years, every 4 hours of exercise per week (about 35 minutes a day), participants have a 17% reduction in the chance of depression. This protective effect of exercise is effective even for those with high genetic risk of depression.

The study’s lead author, postdoctoral researcher Karmel Choi, said: “Our findings strongly suggest that when it comes to depression, genes are not decisive, and physical exercise may offset the additional risk of future attacks by genetically susceptible individuals.” Hospital psychiatry said in a statement.

The study was published today (November 5) in the journal Depression and Anxiety.

Genetic risk
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), depression may spread throughout the home, suggesting that genetic factors contribute to the risk of the disease. According to the National Institutes of Health, although genetic research on depression is still in its infancy, studies have shown that multiple genes, each with a small effect, combine to increase the risk of developing the disease. .

In addition, previous studies have found that exercise can reduce the risk of depression. According to the authors, it is unclear whether this benefit applies to people with certain risk factors, such as genetic risk of depression.

In this new study, the researchers analyzed information from nearly 8,000 participants at Partners HealthCare, a database designed to help researchers better understand how people’s genes, environments and lifestyles affect their health. Participants provided blood samples, analyzed their genomes, and filled out surveys about their lifestyles, such as how much exercise they usually had during the week. This information is then associated with the Electronic Health Record (EHR) of people in Boston’s healthcare system, Partners HealthCare.

Participants who were included in the new study are currently not in a state of depression, so the researchers excluded people who had visited a medical professional with depression over the past year. Then, based on the billing codes for their electronic medical records for the next two years, the authors looked at which of the remaining participants experienced the onset of depression.

Researchers also use genomic data to calculate the genetic risk of a person suffering from depression and give them a “score” based on their risk. This allows researchers to classify participants into three categories: people with low, moderate, and high genetic risk of depression.

Protective effects
The researchers found that people with a high genetic risk were 50% more likely to develop depression in the next two years than those with low genetic risk, which is not surprising.

However, among all risk groups, people with more exercise are less likely to have new episodes of depression. For example, in high-risk populations, the incidence of depression in people who are not exercising is close to 13%, and the rate of depression in people who exercise three hours a week is only 8%.

Moreover, high-intensity exercise such as running and low-intensity exercise such as yoga are associated with a reduced risk of depression.

However, the study only found a link that could not prove that lack of exercise can lead to depression (although previous studies have shown that exercise may help prevent depression). In addition, the EHR used in the study did not reflect the severity of the depressive episode and did not reflect care outside the Partners HealthCare system.

Choi said the study still provides “promising evidence” that doctors can use to counsel patients and “advise patients, even if they have a family history of depression, they can take meaningful steps to reduce Risk of illness.”

Of course, in addition to reducing the risk of depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), regular exercise has many other health benefits, such as reducing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. However, according to the CDC National Health Statistics Center, less than a quarter of Americans meet the National Campaign Guidelines.