People with depression can ease their condition by taking a simple stroll or doing yoga, latest evidence demonstrates.

A new study from the University of Queensland in Australia has found that jogging and strength training is also beneficial for those living with depression.

During the investigation, the team of researchers analysed around 200 studies involving nearly 15,000 people to assess how mental health is affected by physical activity.

They discovered that a light jog and even a simple stroll reduced symptoms of depression in both men and women.

Meanwhile, women with depression felt better than men after engaging in strength training, the study has reported.

Whereas, the findings show that men benefited more than women after doing yoga and qigong – a type of Chinese martial arts.

Although low-intensity exercise can reduce signs of depression, vigorous physical activities produce more feel-good hormones, meaning it is more beneficial for those with depression.

“While more studies are needed, these types of exercises could be considered alongside psychotherapy and drugs as core treatments for depression,” said the researchers.

According to the results, people who engaged in walking, yoga, strength training, mixed aerobic workouts, tai chi and jogging were less likely to be depressed compared to those taking medication and undergoing therapy.

First author Dr Michael Noetel said: “Although walking or jogging were effective for both men and women strength training was more effective for women, and yoga or qigong was more effective for men.

“Yoga was also more effective among older adults, while strength training was more effective among younger people.”

These activities can reduce signs of depression due to a combination of spending more time outside in green spaces and engaging in more social interactions.

Dr Noetel noted: “Even low intensity activities such as walking or yoga are beneficial, but the results suggest that the more vigorous the activity, the greater the benefits are likely to be.”

“Our findings support the inclusion of exercise as part of clinical practice guidelines for depression, particularly vigorous intensity exercise.”

He added: “Health systems may want to provide these treatments as alternatives or adjuvants to other established interventions, while also attenuating risks to physical health associated with depression.”

Read the study in the BMJ.

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