With depression so prevalent, identifying treatments is a pressing need. Research has been looking at non-medical options that people can do themselves to improve their mental health.
According to a new report by a team of British researchers, walking can help reduce depression.
Research published in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity shows that “walking has a statistically significant, large effect on the symptoms of depression in some populations.”
The researchers found eight relevant studies featuring a total of 341 people. Overall, the combined results of these trials suggested that walking reduced the symptoms of depression. However, the trials were small, and they varied in the types of people they included, the walking programmes they used and what they compared walking to. This limits the strength of the conclusions that can be drawn about the effects of walking in specific groups of people with depression.
The research concludes that “while walking is a promising treatment for depression or depressive symptoms with few if any, contraindications, further investigations to establish the frequency, intensity, duration and type(s) of effective walking interventions, particularly in primary care populations would be beneficial for providing further recommendations to clinical practitioners.”
This is not the first research to have suggested that physical exercise is beneficial for depressive symptoms. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) currently recommends considering structured group physical activity programmes as a treatment option for some forms of depression.