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Are you exercising regularly? If you stop now, you may get depressed

Posted March 28, 2018

Exercising is important for your body and mind. It keeps you healthy and motivated. Physical exercising is good for your brain – numerous studies have showed that. But it also picks up your mood. Now scientists from the University of Adelaide revealed that quitting exercising can actually contribute to depression in otherwise regularly active adults.

Stopping exercise after a long period or regular physical activity can result in increased depressive symptoms. Image credit: US Air Force via Wikimedia

If you are exercising regularly, you can tell how it keeps your body fit and healthy and your mind clear. It is actually a good idea to start your day with some exercising, because it is not that mentally taxing, but will help you wake up and be more productive. However, sometimes people just stop exercising regularly because of a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is a job change that leaves no time or energy for exercising, and sometimes people just get bored with it. Scientist Julie Morgan from the University of Adelaide reviewed the results of earlier studies that examined the effects of stopping exercise in regularly active adults and found that it could lead to depression.

Most guidelines recommend exercising at least every other day. Exercising every day is even better – you should get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise a week. You don’t have to stress about it – walking is also a type of exercising and playing various games can actually be a lot of fun. Exercising reduces symptoms of depression and is good for your mental health. However, there is little research into what happens when you suddenly stop exercising after a long period of active lifestyle. PhD student Julie Morgan reviewed several studies, examining cases of 152 adults, who stopped being active after three months of exercising at least 30 minutes three times a week. She noticed that in some cases ceasing exercising caused an increase in depressive symptoms just 3 days since the last exercising session.

For other people depressive symptoms started 1-2 weeks after stopping to exercise. This is still quite quickly. Professor Bernhard Baune, senior author of the paper, said: “This suggests some kind of novel effect in these cases, although we should add some caution here, as the number of people included in the studies we examined was small. Such findings would need to be replicated in additional trials”. While more research needs to be done, it is important that people understood that a sudden introduction of a sedentary lifestyle after a long period of regular exercise will have some negative consequences.

Regular exercise is necessary for staying healthy. You should always find time for it. If it gets boring or you are losing motivation, change something – start playing basketball, weightlifting, running. There are a lot of ways to exercise and you should find your favourite one.


Source: University of Adelaide

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