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Using Exercise to Fend Off Depression

Using Exercise to Fend Off Depression

In the movie Lost in Translation, over-the-hill American movie star Bob Harris, (Bill Murray) rambles around Tokyo—he’s there to shoot a whiskey commercial—in a fog of depression. Trying to pick himself up, he hits the elliptical, but ends up losing the battle-of-the-machines and limping around feeling blue until Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) shows up. Fortunately for Mr. Harris, he was on the right track.

Researchers looked at nearly 34,000 Norwegian adults and monitored their physical activity along with depression and anxiety symptoms over the course of 11 years, making it the largest study of its kind. They found that for some folks who suffered from depression, exercising just one to two hours a week fought off their funk. In fact, the study showed that just one round of exercise could snap you out of your distressing mood.

So, if you’re feeling down in the dumps, get up and move! And don’t stop at an hour or two a week. Start from there. There’s tons of solid scientific evidence that shows working out for at least 30 minutes, five or six days a week, battles everything from the blues to the bulge—and all the associated ailments that make it hard to feel upbeat about your future. Plus, you’ll be well on your way to 10,000 steps (or the equivalent) per day. No matter what language you say it in, a sunnier outlook comes with regular exercise … and nothing gets lost in that translation.

Medically reviewed in September 2018.

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