Movement is associated with decreasing symptoms of depression and lowering the risk of depressive disorder. But how much movement do you need to feel the effects?
The Study: Movement and Depression
A study looked at more than 4,000 older adults over a period of 10 years. We learn that: “accumulating as little as 100 minutes per week or 20 minutes per day for 5 days per week of moderate-intensity activity…may be sufficient to significantly lower the risk of depressive symptoms and odds of major depression over time among older adults.”
However, the study also shows that the risk of depressive symptoms gets even lower the more we move—so if we have more than the 20 minute-threshold, it’s a good idea to get in as much physical activity as we can.
The study reminds us that it doesn’t take too much time to get the mental benefits of movement. Currently, the World Health Organization recommends 150-300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, which is higher than what the study found has significant benefits.
How is this information helpful?
When carving out time to workout, it’s easy to miss a day when you can’t dedicate your usual time allotted for physical activity. But 20 minutes or even just 5, is better than not working out at all.
For someone like me who didn’t grow up playing sports or got any encouragement to move or exercise, discovering movement as an adult changed my perspective. One thing it gave me, aside from giving me joy, is confidence. When I move with intention, I connect with myself. I realized that with patience and dedication, something that is hard to do today, I can do with calm tomorrow.