A 30-Minute Workout May Help Relieve Some Symptoms of Depression – Healthline

Recent research finds even 30 minutes of exercise can provide significant short-term relief from symptoms of depression and even improve how we respond to therapy.

Jacob Meyer, PhD, a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University and the lead author of both publications, told Healthline that while much is known about how exercise can help people in the general population, less was known about how it could potentially benefit people with depression.

“We conducted these studies to gain a better understanding of the short-term effects of exercise and how we might be able to best capitalize on them for adults with depression,” Meyer told Healthline.

In the study, the research team recruited 30 adults experiencing major depressive episodes.

Participants filled out electronic surveys before, half-way-through and after a 30-minute session of moderate-intensity cycling, and then 25, 50, and 75 minutes afterward.

Those who cycled during the first lab visit came back a week later to repeat the experiment, but sitting for 30 minutes first, with the other group also reversing the order of exercise to rest.

After these sessions, participants completed surveys with standard questions and scales used to measure depression symptoms.

The survey data tracked changes in three characteristics of major depressive disorder, such as depressed mood state, difficulty experiencing pleasure from activities previously enjoyed (anhedonia), and decreased cognitive function.