by Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.

Physical exercise reduces the risks of depression. It’s that simple, according to a review of 49 research studies ( ).

This was no small sample of individuals either: almost 267,000 men were in the 49 studies.  Individuals with “high levels of physical activity” compared to “low levels of physical activity” had significantly “lower odds of developing depression.”  A reduced risk of depression was found to be true for youths, adults, and elderly people.  Strikingly, the greatest benefit by a small amount was for young people.

Geographic region was of no matter.  The benefits were true for Asia, Europe, North America, and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand). The overall quality of these studies was judged to be “moderate to high”, making this reliable information.

This finding is similar to a previous blog which described the benefits of yoga.  As one master yoga teacher is known to say, “Our bodies were designed for walking and running long distances.  We are not designed to sit at computers, text, or drive long distances.”

A renowned cardiac expert, Dean Ornish, has developed a program for recovery from cardiac illness that includes regular walking. He has found that 30 minutes of vigorous walking per day gives most people about 90% of the benefit that might be gained from a longer and more demanding workout. A walking regimen enhanced patients’ recovery from cardiac illnesses, as well as improved their mood.

Many psychologists, including this one, makes an exercise regimen – even walking – a highly recommended part of any effort to relieve depression (or anxiety).  Support and encouragement for exercise is a central part of any effort at psychotherapy.


Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in Torrance, CA. A member of the Independent Psychotherapy Network, he can be reached at 310  539-2772, or


Copyright 2018 by Alan M. Solomon, Ph.D.

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