This Light Activity Can Reduce Your Depression Risk By 44%

Discover the alarming rise in depression linked to sedentary behaviour.

Discover the alarming rise in depression linked to sedentary behaviour.

Being too sedentary is linked to an increased risk of depression, research confirms.

Young people who are too sedentary through adolescence are more likely to experience depression as adults.

Even relatively light activity, like walking around, is enough to reduce the risk of depression.

Each additional hour of light activity at 12-years-old reduces depression symptoms by 10 percent at 18-years-old, researchers found.

For adults, sedentary behaviour may be just as dangerous for mental health.

One study has found that just one hour of exercise a week reduces the chances of developing depression by a massive 44 percent.

Mr Aaron Kandola, the study’s first author, said:

“Our findings show that young people who are inactive for large proportions of the day throughout adolescence face a greater risk of depression by age 18.

We found that it’s not just more intense forms of activity that are good for our mental health, but any degree of physical activity that can reduce the time we spend sitting down is likely to be beneficial.”

The conclusions come from a study of 4,257 adolescents, whose movement was tracked for a few days while they were 12, 14 and 16.

They were also asked about the classic symptoms of depression, including loss of pleasure, low mood and problems with concentration.

The results revealed that sedentary behaviour was linked to depression.

Unfortunately, young people became considerably less active as they were tracked through adolescence.

This is a long-term trend, said Mr Kandola:

“Worryingly, the amount of time that young people spend inactive has been steadily rising for years, but there has been a surprising lack of high quality research into how this could affect mental health.

The number of young people with depression also appears to be growing and our study suggests that these two trends may be linked.”

Dr Joseph Hayes, study co-author, said:

“A lot of initiatives promote exercise in young people, but our findings suggest that light activity should be given more attention as well.

Light activity could be particularly useful because it doesn’t require much effort and it’s easy to fit into the daily routines of most young people.

Schools could integrate light activity into their pupils’ days, such as with standing or active lessons.

Small changes to our environments could make it easier for all of us to be a little bit less sedentary.”

The study was published in the journal The Lancet Psychiatry (Kandola et al., 2020).

Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.

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