A review published in the August issue of Current Sports Medicine Reports has concluded that increased physical activity is effective for both prevention and treatment of depression. However, the authors concluded that despite this, “the incorporation of exercise as a key component in treatment is often inconstant and often given a low priority."
News-medical.net reports that the review was carried out by Felipe Barretto Schuch, PhD, of Universidade Federal de Santa Maria, Brazil, and Brendon Stubbs, PhD, of King's College London.
They concluded that, "There is growing recognition that lifestyle behaviours, such as physical activity and exercise partially contribute to the risk of developing depression and can be useful strategies for treating depression, reducing depressive symptoms, improving quality of life, and improving health outcomes."
While studies have consistently linked higher levels of physical activity to lower depressive symptoms, Schuch and Stubbs looked more specifically at whether starting an exercise regime or increasing physical activity reduces the risk of developing depression or reduces depressive symptoms.
Their analysis of 49 prospective studies found that physical activity reduces the odds of developing depression by 17 percent, after adjustment for other factors.
Separate analysis of 25 randomised trials involving people who had already been diagnosed with depression also suggested a "very large and significant antidepressant effect" of exercise.
They did however emphasise that, “exercise is not a panacea and may not work equally for all.”
Merlin Cycles recently analysed data from the latest happiness and well-being report Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the most recent report from the Department of Transport (DoT) to see whether there was a correlation between the number of cycling journeys made in England’s various regions and how happy those regions were.
They found that regions with higher rates of cycling tend to be happier.
The South East, East and South West of England have the highest rates of cycling, according to the DoT report, and they are also the three highest-scoring regions for happiness according to the ONS report.
Merlin put forward a few possible factors.