“Our findings strongly suggest that, when it comes to depression, genes are not destiny and that being physically active has the potential to neutralize the added risk of future episodes in individuals who are genetically vulnerable,” said lead author Karmel Choi. She is a clinical fellow in psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
“On average, about 35 additional minutes of physical activity each day may help people to reduce their risk and protect against future depression episodes,” Choi said in a hospital news release.
Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
“The magnitude of depression around the world underscores the need for effective strategies that can impact as many people as possible,” Choi said.
Mental health and primary care providers can use the findings to advise patients that “here is something meaningful they can do to lower their risk even if they have a family history of depression,” she suggested.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about depression.
SOURCE: Massachusetts General Hospital, news release, Nov. 5, 2019