Fall/Winter 2023 Director’s Letter

 “New Study finds strong link between Exercise and ability to fight off Depression Symptoms”

The percentage of U.S. adults who report having been diagnosed with depression has reached 29%, nearly 10 percentage points higher than in 2015. The percentage of Americans who currently have or are being treated for depression has also increased, to 17.8%, up about seven points over the same period. Both rates are the highest recorded by Gallup since it began measuring depression using the current form of data collection in 2015.

Rates Among Women, Young Adults, Black and Hispanic Adults Rising Fastest

Over one-third of women (36.7%) now report having been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lifetime, compared with 20.4% of men, and their rate has risen at nearly twice the rate of men since 2017. Those aged 18 to 29 (34.3%) and 30 to 44 (34.9%) have significantly greater depression diagnosis rates than those older than 44.

Other Gallup research has estimated that 22% of Northern American adults have experienced depression or anxiety so extreme that they could not continue regular daily activities for two weeks or longer.  Major depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting more that 21 million American adults each year.

As little as 20 minutes of moderate activity a day for five days a week can significantly lower the risk of depressive symptoms for people a new study found.

Moderate physical activity is typically defined as an activity that “takes your breath” so that it is hard to speak while doing it.  If the exercise level is increased to vigorous such as jogging or running, during which breathing is fast and the heart rate rises, the time spent exercising can be reduced, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study found that the more time people spent exercising, the better. People who moderately exercised for 20 minutes a day, five days a week, had a 16% lower rate of depressive symptoms and a 43% lower risk of major depression compared with those who did not exercise.

The higher the physical activity dose, the greater the mental health benefits for depression.

The study findings were not surprising, noting extensive past research that shows a strong link between exercise and reducing depression. Physical activity is 1.5 times more effective at reducing stress, anxiety, and mild-to-moderate symptoms of depression than antidepressant medications or cognitive behavior therapy, which is considered a gold standard treatment.

Exercise does more for a person’s health than just ease depression. It keeps the body in tip-top shape, allowing it to function efficiently and do a better job at warding off disease of all kinds.

Thank you,

J.C. Kennedy

Parks & Recreation Director