Hive Health Media

Exercise Your Depression Away

Good news all you exercise fanatics.

Researchers have found that the more people engage in physical activity, even very light exercise, during their spare time, the less likely they are to be depressed.

Surprisingly, the study showed that people who exert themselves at work by doing lots of walking or lifting are no less likely to be depressed than people with sedentary jobs.

People who were inactive during their leisure time were almost twice as likely to have symptoms of depression, compared with the most active individuals.

Dr Samuel Harvey, lead author of the study, said the findings underlined the importance of the context in which exercise was taken.

“Our study shows that people who engage in regular leisure time activity of any intensity are less likely to have symptoms of depression,” he said.

“We also found that the context in which activity takes place is vital and that the social benefits associated with exercise, like increased numbers of friends, are more important in understanding how exercise may be linked to improved mental health than any biological markers of fitness.

“This may explain why leisure activity appears to have benefits not seen with physical activity undertaken as part of a working day.”


This study is published in the British Journal of Psychiatry

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, and a student of nutrition and exercise science. He's also the co-founder of the Hive Health Media. Since 2008, Doug has expanded his impact by bringing his real-world experience online via the health & fitness blog – Health Habits.


  1. jenn

    December 10, 2010 at 11:05 am

    I’ve had both types of jobs, manual labor and a desk job and both made me depressed. lol. I can though agree with feeling happier when I am active in my spare time. I get out a walk, ride my bike and occasionally play some sports. When you have time to sit around and think about your situation, it’s easier to get unmotivated and depressed.

  2. Frantz

    November 23, 2010 at 11:01 am

    Sure, exercising may be a great way to relieve your depression, but I think the number one cure should start at the brain, and the way you think about yourself. It’ s all psychological. A great way to do this is to talk about your problems. Just go to a website like or and just write your problem down anonymously. People will usually leave you positive feedback or suggestions. It helps, trust me

  3. Exercise rab

    November 8, 2010 at 12:40 am

    This article discusses some of the reasons some of us don’t like exercise and what we can do about it to make sure we are more likely to achieve our fitness and weight loss goals.

  4. eisenmangel

    November 3, 2010 at 4:27 am

    It is really important for a person to be able to take control of himself and manage his depression. One should stay focus to coping skills.

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  6. [email protected]

    November 1, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Thanks for the post and especially the extra links for some added research.
    Much Appreciated!

  7. Exercise rab

    November 1, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    Most people are aware that doing some form of exercise is beneficial, not only for losing unwanted body fat, but also for improving overall health. However, many are unaware of certain factors that can significantly increase the fat burning potential while performing exercise and after exercise while resting.

  8. Dawn @ Probiotics LoveThatBug

    November 1, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    There is nothing like an enjoyable form of exercise to blow the cobwebs away and leave your mind feeling refreshed. It is hard to stay depressed when you are walking in beautiful surroundings or challenging yourself at the gym.

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  11. [email protected]

    November 1, 2010 at 9:11 am

    Great news and another reason to make time for relaxation and doing some exercise we enjoy. I like it.
    Patricia Perth Australia

  12. Jarret

    November 1, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Hey Doug, the connection between exercise and depression has been known for awhile. What’s interesting in this study, as you note, is that it seems to be limited to exercise during leisure time. One more great reason for people to get more active in their spare time!

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