3 Hours of Exercise a Week May Lower Your Depression Risk

Walking, jogging, yoga or any type of exercise may help to ward off depression, even in those with a genetic susceptibility.

Comments: 125

  1. I love this and think it’s absolute truth. We need to be better at prescribing exercise, and change our mindset to embrace that exercise is about overall mental and physical health (and not just our waistline). This is super important for teens also - the other day in the car my 15 year old said “I feel kinda sad when my team takes a week off from soccer practice. My brain just feels better when I run around.”

  2. I think exercise is essential to insulate yourself from all the negative news,and get balance back into your life

  3. Studies also find doing that exercise outside, in nature, lowers risk for depression. So....take it outside!

  4. studies or not ,I exercise...I believe it’s good for me. Let’s move !

  5. Just imagining myself in a scene like that makes me feel better.

  6. Use it or lose it, whether it is your muscles, brain, heart, digestive or immune system. In other words, every aspect of your being improves with age-appropriate exercise.

  7. I am going out on a limb; Any exercise using your muscles or trying your brain is better than none. George Takei of Star Trek fame recently wrote that his god chest pecs had slid down to beneath his navel with time. That does not have to happen but it will if a person does not REALLY flex those pecs. Pushing 80, I have the best body that I have ever had though I do wish that I could gain more mass, my body rejects fat, just not in my genes nor is gaining all the big muscular weight of most other people except the Asians. Exercise gives us release and relief soon follow. I work out strenuously as I know that my heart and blood vessels are only as elastic as I push them to be. Think about it, flexing hard forces the heart to pump more blood at higher pressure so the main veins&arteries have to expand to carry this bigger quantity. This stretching out forces all calcium to have no place to lodge so it goes to get burned to release its energy. After the strenuous exercise, the heart & other organs take a needed rest, the brain gets extra fuel and you body goes into rebuild mode. During exercise, my BP is around 130/85, afterwards 110/78 and after rest 130/74 75hr. regular strenuous exercise does not give blockers a chance to form, exercising strenuous irregularly tends to break some of them loose. Light exercise keeps them in check, all depending. A robust exercise pet is a great companion, both benefit & stay healthier. A fatty cat is bad for both. Happy Thanksgiving 2 U!

  8. Exercise is good for health in several ways, and good to read this. Is "snippet" a technical term? I don't think so.

  9. @EB Your question made me curious so I Googled it. It's a commonly used informal term regarding DNA genetic code, but not a technical term. I imagine it came from the programming field, as Wikipedia describes it as "a programming term for a small region of re-usable source code, machine code, or text."

  10. I've been battling low grade depression as a result of my husband and both parents passing away in the last 5 years along with caregiving for both parents and I'm an only child. That said, I've been exercising my whole life in some form or another. I workout with crossfit, yoga and pilates about 4-5 days per week. I see a grief counselor and have good friends to lean on. I'm a best case scenario in a difficult situation. I did "all the things" and I still would up with depression and am on a low dose of meds since this past June which has been a game changer. While exercise and particularly lifting heavy weights has benefitted me in every way possible and has "saved" me in every way I think it's careless to assume exercise is a cure all. Try telling that to someone who has battled chronic depression/anxiety their whole lives (not me). But just getting a taste of what depression feels like is enough to know that so many things make up depression and it takes so much more than just exercise to fix it.

  11. @Yks I have found that when I was open to the Chinese Medicine perspective my understanding increased. Sometimes one's whole system is depleted which can lead to depression. When the system is depleted there is not enough chi ( life energy) to have the organs function well. So getting acupressure can be a great way to rebalance one's energy and help a person with sleep and appetite.

  12. @Yks: curious, what is your “taste” of depression like? depression seems to vary greatly and due to my circumstances i’m wondering about situational depression, if it’s ok to call yours that.

  13. @Yks Yes, exercise is not a cure-all, but it's quite possible that your depression would be far worse without exercise. I hope you find the combination of life interventions and medication that alleviates your depression soon.

  14. Wonder if three hours of petting huggig and playing with your dog ( whether active or sitting while tossing) or at a rescue every week would also have similar benefits. Certainly does make me happier.

  15. @Sandy I agree dogs are mood elevators for sure. The unconditional love and acceptance is a relief from the real world filled with critics and blamers!

  16. @Sandy I have found dogs to be life savers. As a child, my horse served the same purpose and offered great exercise too. (I was lucky to grow up in a place and time when regular people could keep animals in their backyards.) Dogs "can't help loving you" and you love them back.

  17. I read these studies often with the same question in the back of my mind: "Which comes first, the activity or the lack of depression?" When people suggest exercise helps, which I really have no doubt it does, I have to also wonder if people prone to being fit and enjoying exercise are naturally less prone to depression.

  18. @Tamara I have a close relative who is a natural athlete but prone to depression. When she gets depressed, she stops moving. I am not much of an athlete but enjoy pretty strenuous yoga and walking (used to be be running) and am not particularly prone to depression. So on the unscientific basis of two examples, I'd say that the depression comes first, causing lack of activity.

  19. And best if it is joyful exercise

  20. For many, exercise is not joyful. Movement is painful. No amount of coaxing will change this. As more and more are limited in their access to appropriate pain medication, we are seeing more pain, more depression, and less movement.

  21. This is great but how many studies do we need to conduct to confirm humans benefit from: Regular exercise Not overeating Diet high in vegetables and legumes Limiting alcohol consumption Avoiding drugs Human interaction and string social connections

  22. @Prudence Spencer I agree. I wish our society encouraged more socialization. It is not always easy to be a single person and attend certain social events completely solo. Not everyone lives near family. Sure, one can go to the movies or concerts alone and be part of a crowd, which is nice. But that isn't really socialization or a hug. The role of the church has waned or become politicized, and many activities are centered around families with children, or, frankly, drinking, which as we all know is terrible for depression.

  23. @Prudence Spencer Exactly correct. But those messages cannot be repeated too often because they compete with the far-louder voices of various industries who profit from poor dietary and health choices.

  24. @Prudence Spencer That's what science does. It confirms and reconfirms findings from a different angle or by utilizing existing data to replicate findings. One study is never enough to be sure that findings are accurate.

  25. I am living proof that exercise helps alleviate serious depression. I probably would not have survived without it. Also, as a mental health counselor, exercise has always been part of my "prescription" for clients, especially those who refuse medication. In addition, social connections are very helpful, as long as they are supportive.

  26. I believe had I started running earlier in life I could have cut my time on the analyst's couch in half. I would have still spent time there but greatly reduced and saved a lot of money! Exercise is a buffer between me and my "monkey brain."

  27. I’m in in recovery from long-term depression, and I will not dispute that exercise has been a key part of my new-found emotional stasis. However, let’s not now begin to shame those who don’t exercise and are depressed. Far too easy to say, “well, if you just started running/yoga/weightlifting, etc., your depression would vanish!“ Depression has to be fought on many different fronts by the person affected and her sympathetic allies. There is no magic bullet.

  28. I think the operative word here is "may." I know someone who is clinically depressed who exercises multiple hours every day. So I agree it is something worth pursuing if someone feels up to it, but it's not a guarantee.

  29. @Paul in NJ Paul — you are blessed to live near ‘The Hook’ where you can run, walk, cycle, rollerblade, etc. We live in Edison NJ and are avid birders, so we are at the Hook often especially mid-April to mid-May. Also, you don’t know how depressed your friend would feel without exercise. Could be very helpful but not curative. See you over by the lighthouse sometime !!!

  30. @Paul in NJ I walk 3-5 miles a day. It doesn't seem to help. I walk with tears streaming down my face when I'm depressed.

  31. @Shawnthedog's Mom Oh, your comment is heartbreaking. I understand.

  32. I have been doing 20 minutes of yoga daily for many years : from a dvd plus I have added a few poses over the years. Just in the past year, I have been doing it more mindfully, trying to feel each pose in every muscle in my body, aiming to not let my mind wander. Also, when I go for walks in the neighborhood, I have stopped listening to audiobooks or music. I now aim to totally pour my awareness into the sights and sounds as I walk, also being aware of my muscles moving. I like this new routine.

  33. @Mary M. Coming from a new yoga teacher, I totally agree and you are on the right track, especially about no more audiobooks. Awareness in meditation walks, body and mind. I just completed a Senior Yoga course @ Duke University and that is exactly what we learned based on evidence and research.

  34. It’s pretty difficult to even think about exercising when you are so exhausted just trying to get through the day with depression. I know I should but it’s so overwhelming just to do normal things like work or be with family. It feels like one more thing I’m doing “wrong”.

  35. Understood. Start with short walks outside. As you gain the will and strength to walk more it will feel less and less like a burden, and more and more like a key piece for your recovery. You can do it! Best to you.

  36. Finding motivation to exercise can be challenging (from depression, time crunch, not feeling strong, putting others needs first etc.). Some tips: Build in small amounts of exercise doing things you have to do anyway (if going downstairs to get something, go up and down 2-3 times instead of once; walk to the store to pick up milk, or park at the end of the parking lot, or a couple of blocks away from the store; walk the long way around the block before entering any building). If weather isn’t great, walk up and down a mall or every aisle of a store (even if you just need one thing) - you can clock a lot of steps that way. Committing to someone / something else, like volunteering to walk shelter dogs can help give purpose to the exercise so it feels less pointless. Listening to podcasts while walking can help occupy the mind and make the time pass faster.

  37. Interesting that housework isn't mentioned as exercise... Vacuuming - studies have shown that it takes as much energy as swimming. I'm also running up and down two flights of stairs daily. I don't have fitbit and don't want one, but some types of work are also exercise... Certainly outdoor exercise is preferable - weather permitting. Studies have shown that just 10 minutes outdoors is a BIG mood booster (and that wasn't necessarily when moving around). My motto is - just keep moving!

  38. Buckling down to an hour at the gym every single day finally lifted the despair and sleeplessness I had been experiencing over the deaths (one month apart) of my two best friends. My spirit was extremely happy to rest when my body took over the heavy lifting. I love this article. Very true.

  39. Is it because of the actual exercise, or just the fact that you are up and about, and socializing?

  40. @JQGALT Socializing is perfect, of course, but maybe not at first.

  41. @JQGALT Exercise alone already helps. Socializing can help (especially playing team sports with nice supportive people), but it depends on the levels of social anxiety. Also remember bad social interactions during exercise can prevent people from doing it again.

  42. For those who find themselves in the thick of a severe depression, it will take a lot of effort and help to simply get up and go outside. In my years of depression, being outdoors, walk, run, bike or gardening was the only way to conquer the Black Dog.Sitting at home is the worst thing one can do, but the first feeble steps out are not easy!

  43. I injured a knee and had a chiropractor herniate my back in 2018, unable to run and in a lot of pain that impacted my sleep. Running has been my passion for more than 35 years. I slipped into a terrible depression from lack of running, sleep deprivation and living in a different climate with less sunshine. I got to the point of thinking life had no meaning and I understood why a person could get to the point of taking their life. Fortunately, I’ve been recovering, got some short-term therapy and have running regularly again. My depression has lifted. I can look back now and see today how running affects my mood. I’m so grateful to be able run again.

  44. What a tragedy it is that most mental health units/hospitals offer no exercise program or even opportunity to be physically active.

  45. Yet, getting the depressed person to exercise can be very challenging to begin with.

  46. @JL Getting anybody to do anything can be challenging. I hope those who are down will allow themselves to act on the advice suggested by the article. This is the life you have, people. There is no easy way out. An apple a day helps. Move your body and use your mind or lose them. I've walked and run for years; always have been glad I did. Learning Tai Chi is a pain, but you can improvise your own routine by approximating its flowing movement. Don't let perfection be the enemy of the good. You can make things better for yourselves; no reason to let anyone else stop you. Faith, hope and charity will most likely get your further than consumption.

  47. The health section of the Times, more often than not, considers exercise to be the use of fitness machines or individual pursuits of fitness and flexibility like yoga or running. Thankfully, the photo accompanying Gretchen Reynold’s last Phys Ed column shows a hiker walking a dog outdoors. When possible, outdoor activity is always better for the mind and spirit than indoor activity. Egregiously missing from her examples of exercise is pure and simple play. I am convinced that the benefit of playing sports with others wards off depression more than the exercises Gretchen Reynolds suggest do the trick. What happened to the fun part of exercise? When did exercise become equated with the term workout? I recently found some old photographs from my parents’ many albums, which showed the long-lost practice of impromptu gatherings for a game of baseball in the cul-de-sac or touch football on the nearby school field. I fear that children will grow up with the idea that fitness and well-being are achieved only in a fitness center while wearing earbuds.

  48. @Barbara B Echos of bowling alone.

  49. So true. I have experienced deep depression several times in my life. I found, almost through trial and error, that there is nothing better than vigorous physical exercise to keep that black abyss at bay. Now, I have made such exercise a weekly habit (at least 5 times a week) and I can attest that, over the past 30 years, it has been a lifesaver. My advice for those who find it difficult: start with steps as small as you need them to be to succeed. Set a timer for 5 minutes and walk briskly for that amount of time ... do that for a few weeks and then up it to 10, etc. Just get out and do it ... even now, with all the wisdom I'm learned from my experience, sometimes I drive to the gym or the trailhead telling myself, "just drive there and once you are there, you can change your mind if you don't want to go ..." or I set out the front door saying to myself, "just walk the five minutes down to the water and see how you feel -- you can walk back if you don't want to do more." I almost always end up doing more and I am ALWAYS glad I did!

  50. Based on my statistical sample size of 1, you can stop the studies. It's a no-brainer. I walk into the gym barely able to do my stretches from my sadness (not always, but often), and walk out high on endorphins. The good feeling lasts until my next workout 2 days later. I also read of a study concluding that outdoor exercise results in even more of a response to depression. I assume the sunshine boosts it.

  51. Yes! I also find that exercise alleviates my anxiety, to the point that when I starting exercising regularly I didn’t need my antidepressants (which I use for anxiety more than depression). My son struggles with anxiety and exercise is a godsend. I wish we all had more time to fit exercise into a busy work and family life.

  52. One symptom of depression is lack of energy. So there may be a vicious downward cycle of depression interfering with exercise, thereby exacerbating the depression. We might heed the wise advice William James gave in 1890--don't wait until our depression lifts before we do what we enjoy when we're not depressed. Instead, we need to push ourselves to do things like exercising while we're depressed, in order to get out of the depression. Exercise can be as beneficial as antidepressants. And with fewer side effects.

  53. Getting exercise just works from the blues to full-blown "Can't get out of bed, what's the use?" I wonder why so many depressed people refuse to use this cure. If it had a price on it, it would be advertised as the miracle cure. In the meantime, it's effective with fewer side effects than almost any other treatment. It also has preventative ability. Depression is poison for the body, the mind, and for life. And still, for most victims, it has a simple cure that needs to be more widely used.

  54. I have suffered low grade depression all my adult life. As with most other posters here, I can only confirm the amazing benefits of regular exercise to combat the dark moods. The one thing I'll add is that, for me, it takes a lot more than 3 hours per week. I used to run for an hour a day, but chronic foot/leg injuries put an end to that. Now I walk, but the moods only lift after 90 minutes of brisk, daily walking. It is worth it, so don't give up if the suggested times don't do much for you.

  55. Here will go again, documenting what probably has been known since the Stone Age. Re depression, exercise cannot hurt and usually can help in a small way and should be used as therapy. It is not one simple panacea cure for it.

  56. @Paul How depressing.

  57. @mja dark humor, sometimes that can help with depression too.

  58. I have been moderately depressed my whole adulthood and take an SSRI. But the effect of exercise is stunning, and may have saved my life. I run 1/2 hour daily on a cross trainer, like it or not. Always — I mean always— helps.

  59. Like almost everyone else commenting, my experience is that exercise has a markedly beneficial effect on my mental health. Depression/low energy/no exercise/more depression is the vicious circle. But exercise/less depression/more energy/more exercise is the virtuous circle. The trick is breaking out of the former into the latter. My exercise of choice is cycling. There have been many, many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  60. Is physical activity curative or could physical inactivity be causal, for those who are predisposed to the various forms of depression? Whether one is accomplishing a necessary physical chore (raking the leaves, framing a house, ...), just walking a couple miles or tricking the mind by sweating it out on the elliptical or playing a game of tennis, those predisposed to depression may just be suffering from a subtle and implicit feeling of impotence if they are just “sitting around” and think they’re “doing nothing”. Could physical activity just be implicitly satisfying a primal need to take charge of one’s existence?

  61. When I am in a deep depression, attempting to exercise makes me feel worse. I'm sure I'm not alone.

  62. @TJW I have extreme anxiety and it saps my energy to the degree that I always feel about to faint, which makes exercise difficult.

  63. @TJW Please please try to push through this feeling. How long do you exercise ? Do you try consistently even if you seem to feel worse ? I am depression-prone but breaking a sweat regularly has been immensely helpful. Please keep trying ....

  64. @TJW Go for a walk in the woods when you feel depressed. Nature will definitely help.

  65. I do like Mozart who was broke and did not exhibit it when he went to Paris where he had composed his symphony No. 31 which he labeled the Paris Symphony. Rather than exercise, I listen to the music of Mozart and Schubert for peace and tranquility. This works for me.

  66. Friends have often quoted to me Newton’s 1st law of motion, “an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion,” to promote the tremendous significance of exercise during my depressions. They never finish the rest of the quote, “unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” Depression is an unbalanced force. It does not play by the rules.

  67. Years ago, depressed college student volunteers were divided into two groups. Half participated in group therapy, the other half followed a basic jogging routine. After 6 months, the joggers reported less depression.

  68. Before automatically getting in your car to run an errand, consider walking or riding a bicycle. Don't just do these things purely as exercise, make it a part of your lifestyle. Many people can easily substitute trips taken by car with other methods. Get an E-bike if you have hills or problems riding distances. Save yourself, save the planet. Drive less.

  69. The results of this study don't surprise me at all. I'm nearly 58 and have mostly dealt with anxiety/panic attacks during my life (along with mild depression), and I literally could not survive without exercise (running, walking, bicycling, hiking, swing-dancing, weight-lifting, and more). It's great, too, that the study showed you didn't have to run marathons to benefit. I think the evidence is pretty clear now that moving our bodies as much as we can and however we can is good for both our physical and mental health. That said, I know it can be hard for people suffering from depression to motivate themselves to exercise. In my experience, one of the best things that can help with motivation is having an exercise buddy who will help nudge you out the door for a walk or over to the gym or to go dancing or whatever. When I walk with my friend, the miles fly by as we talk and I barely realize I'm exercising! Time to go for a walk!

  70. Riding my bike, along our beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline, especially in the early morning hours has been my respite for as long as I can recall. I have always been prone to sadness and depression for a plethora of reasons. I have never felt safe or comfortable walking because frankly, being followed and/or stalked has been paramount in my mind since I was attacked while walking home one Saturday afternoon when I was in junior high. But bicycling - wow, nothing beats because I love the feel of the cool breeze and warm sun on my face and I can really move at a clip on that bike if necessary. The best part of biking is feeling a good and complete tiredness after I get home. I accomplished something, physically as well as mentally. My head is clear and refreshed. Whenever I feel that vague fog of sadness circling my head and thoughts, the biggest struggle I face is actually getting out of the house and hoping on that bike. Once I'm mobile, then I can bike for hours. But just making that decision to get started has always been a tug of war for me. Biking is easy, while leaving the house to go biking, not always so much.

  71. Many people suffering from major depression—even those who actively exercised before they became depressed—are unable to muster the energy and motivation to exercise. Resuming exercise is often a sign that the depression is lifting. As the article states, this study suggests a CORRELATION between exercise and the PREVENTION of depression in those "genetically" predisposed. (I put genetically in quotes because the genetics of depression is not well worked out.) This study does not show, nor can it, that exercise TREATS depression, although many of the commenter's anecdotes suggest that it might at least be helpful.

  72. There is an old Chinese belief that people with droopy earlobes tend to live longer. The probably origin of this belief: As one ages, one's earlobes succumb to gravity and so more old people have droopy lobes than young people. The study quoted does not establish causality. It is no surprise that people who are out exercising are not depressed. But we don't know that the exercise itself actually played any role. In any case, it is important to understand that: 1- this may not work for everyone. 2- that significant depression may actually make it impossible to exercise. We have to be very careful at not expecting all depressed people to pull themselves up the bootstraps(or chin-up bar). Unless you have experienced it, it is not easy to grasp how difficult even the smallest actions can be, let alone exercise.

  73. A gym membership is, hands down, the best money one can spend each month. With regards to overall quality of life, nothing delivers an ROI like exercise.

  74. Forty-two years ago at age 25 I was diagnosed with clinical depression. It was the fourth time my world had grayed out on me for periods lasting from six months to a year, but the first time depression was named as the culprit. It never stopped me from functioning, but during those times I was acutely self critical, self conscious and unable to experience any pleasure from the company of others. I was referred to a psychiatrist who prescribed medication as needed to help with my social anxiety and told me that exercise would be essential in preventing future episodes of depression. It took five years and a number of failed attempts at tennis, racketball, weight machines, Dancersize, etc. until I found an aerobic/weight training program in my hometown called BodyFirm (known now as The Firm). I enjoyed the classes, I could feel and see the benefits and most important of all, I could stick with it. The studio is long gone, but the DVDs live on and to this day I work out three times a week to my favorites and walk on days I don’t work out. Knock wood, I’ve not had any need for antidepressants in 35 years which makes me a rare bird among my female friends and family members. When people assume I exercise for weight control, I’m quick to tell them it’s for my head.

  75. Anecdotally, my tendency towards extreme SADD has been significantly moderated by 3x (or more) vigorous gym sessions but walking 12K+ steps per day (I don't have a car) didn't touch it at all.

  76. @Mollykins I generally need more than walking too. I found HIIT and weightlifting to be the best for me, ymmv

  77. I've had chronic depression and anxiety my whole life. The most impactful "cure" to stabilize my moods (and I've been on and am on antidepressents throughout my life) has been daily running and a mediterranean diet. A complete game changer.

  78. For myself at 72, exercising (strenuous yoga, walking or a bit of running) just makes me happy, not only for the pleasure of movement but also for the meditative aspects of yoga or the joy of being outside in nature. Exercise, once you have done it, seems to make many people feel better, not just physically but emotionally and mentally. The trick is remembering this clearly enough to get yourself to do it even when you don't initially feel like it. But this might be very hard for clinically depressed people to do without some sort of support, especially if they have not been in the habit of exercising. As the article say, it's more of a preventative strategy than a cure-all.

  79. In a simplified explanation, depressed people want to change for the positive. Those that exercise are changing for the positive. Thus . . .

  80. "This kind of observational study cannot show us, though, if being physically active directly causes people to remain mentally healthy, only that exercise and mental health are linked. It also relied on people’s memories of how much they had exercised recently, which can be notoriously unreliable. In addition, it looked at preventing depression, not treating it." Right. So forget the holier/healthier-than-thou advocacy and get back to us when you have a long-term, large-scale, "hard outcome" randomized controlled trial. (Of course that will likely be horribly biased with "selection bias" as those willing to participate will be more likely to be motivated to improve. A were those analyzed here, those motivated enough to have "filled out a questionnaire about exercise habits." Because motivation to participate and motivation to improve depression run in the same direction, of course you are going to always see an association between exercise/activity levels and depression. But that does not it make it causal.

  81. Alas, it is also important to keep in mind that not everyone will benefit from exercise in keeping depressive thoughts/melancholia at bay and, for some, it's benefits are even more attenuated. Having been depressed most of my life and having taken the usual routes to relief (therapy, medications, and, yes, regular strenuous exercise), I have found that some types of (existential?) depression resist virtually all types of remediation, usually because those approaches still do little to provide meaning and purpose in a world that seems cruel, at best. So, now I'm 55 years old and super fit, profoundly unhappy, and concerned that now all I've done (with exercise) is assure that I will likely have to live with depression for many more years than I would have statistically and under the substantially more difficult conditions of "extreme" old age (a similar experience that healthy people face when they realize they have not saved enough money to live past 80, for example). On the positive side, I can and do rely on strenuous manual labor to calm the noonday demon. Yet, like the exercise described here, it is merely a patch, a few moments where life and the future seem psychologically bearable. For some exercise may work wonders and I do recommend it. For others, I recommend becoming familiar with a pick axe, a grub hoe, or a maul. (and serial commas)

  82. @gbosco13 Thank you. You have so eloquently stated my own state of being. I exercise regularly, walk my dog twice a day, run during lunch breaks, ride my bike to work, and still...I struggle with terrible depression. Thank you for your thoughtful comment.

  83. @Diana Thank you Diana. I would posit that our approach (exercise, attempts at engagement) is possibly still the best response to our mood states. I can't imagine how I would cope without these activities, even though, like you, the depression has merely moved off shore for a few hours. We can still choose to hope that one day, it will never return; others are not so fortunate. Best of luck to you and all of us here. Love.

  84. Dear NYT -- I wanted to call attention to one instance of word choice in this article (which is a good one). This choice of word is, perhaps, an instance of an autocorrection mistake, or a perhaps operator error. The paragraph is: "Exercise did not erase the risk of depression for everyone, she continues. Some active people developed depression. But exercise buffered the risks, even for people born with a predilection for the condition.". The word in question is PREDILECTION. This word, predilection, indicates preference and choice for one thing over another. It indicates a bias toward something. I believe the intended word was predisposition. If someone is predisposed to something, they have a higher probability of suffering from a particular condition (in this case, depression). I'm quite confident no one prefers to be depressed and, in other sections of this article, you have used the correct word. Please correct this. At best it is distracting and, at worst, insulting toward those who are predisposed to depression.

  85. Go to your therapist's office and jog around it for an hour. In a month do it around your former therapist's office.

  86. The hardest part is just showing up. Even when you don't feel up to it...just do it. Your mind and body will thank you for it. GO~! Move~! NOW~!

  87. I live in a high rise apartment. The apartment has 32 floors. I try walking up these 32 flights several times a week. I always bring my cocker spaniel dog with me. We both enjoy the exercise. It better than any gym and its does not cost you anything. Try it. You will enjoy the challenge and exercise.

  88. I wish anyone suffering mild to moderate depression could regularly walk a dog through magnificent mountain country under a cobalt blue sky, in lieu of ingesting psycho-active medications, and submitting to despair.

  89. @Lee this is exactly how I deal with my moderate depression, except it's the Sonoran Desert, sometimes (esp. in winter) the sun isn't up when we start, and it's two dogs rather than just one. The exercise certainly helps all of us mentally, and for me, so does seeing the pure joy of two very good doggos smiling, exploring our neighborhood, and reading/sending their p-mail :)

  90. @Americanitis Bless you.

  91. Schools should have gym class 4 times a week!

  92. @MB Excellent idea! Our taxes support the schools, so why shouldn’t the school gyms be made available to all of the community?

  93. what if you're too depressed to exercise?

  94. @Claire This happens to be a lot more than I'd like. I have a pair of active dogs that need exercise and will bug me until I take them out. So I'd say: accountability to a workout buddy or two :)

  95. @Claire Knowing how fierce the winters are in Wis. have you ever considered moving or at least taking a vacation somewhere warm ?

  96. I'm sure I'll catch all sorts of flak from saying this, but one has to wonder how our collective mental health would be if gasoline was around 6-7 bucks a gallon and/or private vehicles were taxed heavily and much of our overly-convenient life(styles) were gone, which includes that insidious 'smart'phone. Well, if the aliens do come, they'll quickly realize they simply need to take out the satellites. We'll be killing one another within days. Okay, too much caffeine.

  97. It's VERY frustrating to read an article that says "the risk fell another 17 percent with each additional 30 minutes or so of daily activity" but doesn't say what percent reduction was the result of the first three hours.

  98. @Michael I noticed that, too. Doesn't this paper hire human proof readers anymore, or does it simply rely on Grammarly?

  99. Gee, imagine this. Instead of drugs—now known to be varied in effectiveness, not the guaranteed miracle medicine—exercise is good for your mental health. Now we just have to convince America that every health condition is not answered by the next drug ad on TV.

  100. I think these types of studies are interesting and thought provoking. But I dislike how some people commenting keep talking smack about anti-depressants or "if only Americans...". I am a very active person. I cycle to work, I run during my lunch breaks, I walk my dog at least 45 min in the morning and evenings, and still struggle with depression. There are no quick or easy fixes, you gotta put in in the work. Please stop stigmatizing mental illness.

  101. This was what made my last injury recovery so difficult. I pulled an external oblique. Please do not ever do that! It's awful.The recovery is depressing and disabling. I couldn't even lift an 8 inch frying pan to scramble myself an egg. Sneezing and sitting on the toilet became dangerous. So working out was out of the question. There has to be some way to get the benefits of exercise when you're physically disabled.

  102. @Patricia Find a pool. Good for rehab and light resistance work. Many locals have handicap lifts adjacent if needed. At least my gym chain does. Check with your insur., they might have a program such as The Silver Sneakers or such and offer discounts or paid for's.

  103. I still vividly remember going cross country skying every week when I was suffering from depression twenty years ago. That, plus antidepressants and cognitive based therapy, slowly healed me. Immersing myself in the pristine white forests was so soothing... I later learnt that the Japanese have an expression for it: Shinrin-yoku (Forest Therapy).

  104. @Sophie The combination of physical activity and time in nature is a restorative. And I personally find the effect is magnified in the winter months, for reasons unknown. I have found nothing more healing than snowshoeing or skiing in the backcountry, in the pines.

  105. With the benefits of exercise so pronounced for depression, yet depression making it so difficult for the depressed to get moving, I've always wondered why therapists don't offer walking sessions where they walk and talk. For anyone who finds physical exercise challenging - get in the pool! Swimming and water exercise are manageable for many with chronic health conditions who cannot otherwise exercise due to the low gravity.

  106. @Megan As a therapist, i have offered walking sessions, as mind and body are both important in healing. I also find that we can move just as easily as we can 'just sit' when were depressed, and of course get better results when we move

  107. @Megan Great comment and suggestion Megan!!! I'm terrified of water, but I completely agree with the pool notion. I go into the pool with my husband but stay in the shallow end, by the edge so I always have something to hold on to while I'm walking. Such great exercise and it tires me out completely, but a good kind of tired. Many a doctor I've known have always said swimming is the best exercise because the body is floating with no impact like that is used in lifting weights or running or jogging.

  108. @Marge Keller Swim with a noodle or two. Also jogging in place in the pool is great exercise.

  109. While exercising, especially outdoors, is extremely beneficial in possibly lowering one's risk of depression, I have found for myself the best medicine in keeping myself from going off an emotion cliff due to depression - loving and caring for an animal, albeit a canine, feline, or anything in between. There is something about the unconditional love from a dog and/or a cat that keeps me grounded and give me real purpose in life, not to mention giving me a tangible reason to get out of bed every morning. Also, shelter dogs and cats make the absolute best pal anyone could possibly wish for before both the the life of the human and the animal are being saved, simultaneously.

  110. @Marge Keller Sincere apologies for the many typos. Fred, our hearing challenged cat refused to get off the keyboard while I was typing because I was taking too long. Now he's on my lap, trying to gently naw on my wrist so I stop writing. Yes Fred, I'm finished now.

  111. there is no proof of genetic predisposition first of all. we should have been looking at better life style changes to help depression before but big pharma opposed research on other factors, besides "chemical imbalance" affecting depression for years.

  112. MANY years ago, I cut a little quote out of a Reader's Digest magazine. "Even on the days you just don't feel like going to work, you still go, right? It's the same with exercise." -Gabrielle Reece. It is still on my refrigerator.

  113. @Melissa Keith......great quote...my go to is, I think about all the energy I have and no knee pain, when I'm finished swimming for 35/40 minutes. That get me out the door.

  114. I find this hard to believe. I suffer from depression which appears to be genetically based. I run marathons, including Boston. Not even 15 hours a week, much less 3 hours a week, touches my depression. Medication is the only thing that helps.

  115. @DSD Yours is an anecdote. That's not how science works.

  116. @DSD - Low testosterone could cause depression. And I have listened to at least three bodybuilders this week discuss what happened when they got "shredded" as in going under 10% body fat. Erectile dysfunction, mood swings, no interest in sex, etc. Professional bicyclists sometimes complain of the same issues. If you are a marathon runner I'm guessing you have some pretty low body fat and it certainly couldn't hurt to ask for a simple test next time you see your M.D. You can read about distance runners like Ryan Hall talk about this issue.

  117. I think that experiences like yours (mine is similar) are important to keep in mind when reading this kind of study. This isn't universal and there's nothing wrong with people that it doesn't work for! Everyone's experience is different and that's okay

  118. The best advice I've ever heard in regards to exercise is on the days you don't feel like it at all take just the first step, giving yourself the right to turn around and quit. Maybe a couple of times in 20 years I've turned around at the gym door or at my front step, but telling myself I can stop any time gets me over the hurdle of starting. And the less I feel like exercising on a given day the better I feel afterwards.

  119. This is nothing new. Thirty years ago my therapist suggested regular exercise for my mild to moderate depression. During the tougher periods it proved difficult to maintain. Now a combination of low dose SSRI and regular visits to the gym keep me in good mental and physical health.

  120. For anyone who can not run or do gym style exercise due to health or age, swimming is a wonderful way to work out. It is very relaxing and low stress. There are individuals at the pool (high school) I swim at who have physical handicaps and still swim on a regular basis. Some just walk or stretch. It is also a very congenial atmosphere and a great way to meet people. The best part is it doesn’t require any special equipment, dependent on weather conditions and is often less expensive than a gym.

  121. It can in some ways depend on weather conditions, in that your shivering body may not want to get in a swimsuit in the dead of winter or when you are congested, have a cough/sore throat etc. and then go out in the freezing cold with a damp head...

  122. @Igy. Guess this is not for you..sorry! But then again it sounds like your scenario would apply to any exercise regime. After working out I would shower and then go out in the freezing cold with a damp head! But there is always hair dryers!

  123. I went from antidepressants that made me functional to healthy and drug free as a result of starting a 6 day a week 1 hour a day cardio program. The cost was an hour of time, a pair of sneakers and the result, happiness. I run mostly but walk or swim or cycle or elliptical and it has made all the difference in the 20 years hence I have been depression free.

  124. As a nation we should have walking and bike paths along all our arterial highways and throughout our neighborhoods. No one should have to go to the gym to get exercise when they could just ride a bike to work or walk to the store.

  125. “Decreased interest in activities” (including exercise) is one of the core diagnostic criteria for depression. So it’s possible that people with less severe depression (even in spite of genetic risk) are more able to exercise. Exercise is undoubtedly important, but it’s irresponsible to treat this CORRELATIVE study as proof that exercise can stave off depression!