According to an article from the University of Utah HealthFeed a little bit of exercise and fitness this winter can help with depression

Decades-long research published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that more physically active adults exhibited fewer symptoms of depression than non-active adults.

For 50 years, researchers followed 11,000 participants born the same week in March 1958. They checked in on the participants four times during the study—at ages 23, 33, 42 and 50—to ask how frequently they exercised each week and to test for depressive symptoms such as down mood, fatigue and irritability.

“At most ages, we found a trend of fewer depressive symptoms with more frequent activity,” the researchers said.

The opposite was also true.

“The more activity a person does, the less depressive symptoms they have. Conversely, the more intense or greater depressive symptoms someone has, the less physical activity they are likely to have,” says Jason W. Hunziker, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Utah and the medical director of inpatient care for the University Neuropsychiatric Institute.

The study recognized that depression is a barrier to getting moving and exercising.  For those who found it hard to get moving the advice was to start small, maybe a trip to the end of the drive or mailbox and back for a week or two followed by a walk to the end of the block for a couple of weeks.  The key was to slowly increase the distance and time spent being active.

This is good advice for any new activity, ease yourself in to it and make it a life change and not a life upheaval and the behavior is more likely to stick.  Just like we learn at Fitness Camp, learn to change your behaviors and give yourself time to adjust and the behaviors change will be long lasting.

The study also recognizes that exercise is not the complete answer to depression and should be part of a treatment plan and that therapy and medication are important components as well.