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Study finds exercising three times per week could lower risk of depression by 19 percent

If you're not already breaking a sweat at the gym or on a running path a couple times a week, you may want to jump to it.

A new study published this week in JAMA Psychiatry shows that research subjects who exercised three times per week reduced their risk of depression by 19 percent. And, each additional workout session on top of the base three further reduced the subjects' depression risk by another six percent.

"Importantly, this effect was seen across the whole population, and not just in those at high risk of clinical depression," Christine Power, a senior author on the study and professor of epidemiology and public health at the Institute of Child Health at UCL, told Medical News Today. "Just as someone might be a little overweight but not clinically overweight or obese, many people who are not clinically depressed could still experience some depressive symptoms."

Researchers analyzed more than 11,000 people born in 1958, checking in with the subjects at ages 23, 33, 42, and 50. At each age marker, the subjects filled out a Malaise Inventory (a questionnaire used to assess psychological distress) and also self-reported their level of physical activity.

The study's authors said while their findings don't mean that exercise is a cure-all for depression, doctors assisting patients struggling with depression should consider physical activity as part of their broader treatment recommendations.