According to a new study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry exercise can both relieve depression and prevent heart disease at the same time.
Examining almost 18,000 participants, researchers found the link between aerobic fitness at age 50 and the occurrence of depression and heart disease later in life.
Interestingly, the team also noted that if chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity and kidney disease were present, antidepressants could lose effectiveness.
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"There is enough evidence to show that the effect of low fitness on depression and heart disease is real," says study co-author Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, the director of the Centre for Depression Research and Clinical Care at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas.
"But further study is needed to establish the mechanism by which this effect happens.
"Maintaining a healthy dose of exercise is difficult, but it can be done," adds Dr. Trivedi. "It just requires more effort and addressing unique barriers to regular exercise."
Medical News Today recommends the following tips to maintaining a healthy exercise routine:
- Dedicate the same amount of time to working out each day, at the same time.
- Don't be discouraged if you miss a few days. Instead, just resume exercise as soon as you can.
- Track progress.
- Mix up your workouts to stay motivated
- Buddy up so you have someone to make sure you keep exercising.
"The earlier you maintain fitness, the better chance of preventing depression, which in the long run will help lower the risk of heart disease," urges Dr. Trivedi.
"These new insights demonstrate the ongoing importance of fitness throughout the lifespan," adds Dr. Benjamin Willis, the director of Epidemiology at the Cooper Institute in Dallas.
"Now we know that the long-term benefits, and the connection between mind-body wellness, are more significant than we thought. We hope our study will highlight the role of fitness and physical activity in early prevention efforts by physicians in promoting healthy aging."