Can Small Amounts of Exercise Lower Depression?

There are so many studies examining exercise and mental health these days and here is one that says that as little as fifteen minutes of jogging can reduce depression:

New evidence suggests that even a small amount of exercise – 15 minutes of jogging a day, for example – could lower your risk of depression.

A recent study by Massachusetts General Hospital looked at more than 600,000 adults, assessing their genetic makeup, medical history and physical activity levels. Researchers determined that participants who were genetically more likely to exercise may be less likely to develop depression.

"Previous studies have shown an association. People who exercise have less depression," Dr. David Agus said Thursday on "CBS This Morning." "But this study, in a very clever genetic way where they actually were able to use genetics to randomize people … showed causality. That exercise itself, no matter who you are, can reduce the risk of depression."

The key is to be active every day. "Fifteen minutes of jogging, an hour of gardening. Get outside and do something," Agus said. His rule of thumb? Get your heart rate up 50 percent higher from where it started for that 15 minutes of activity.

"If your heart rate starts at 60, get it to 90. That's not a crazy amount of exercise. That means you don't even need to be sweating or out of breath, just move is critical," Agus said.

I do think small amounts of exercise can help. It's much easier to go outside and walk quickly for 15 minutes than it is to think you have to drive somewhere daily and work out for an hour. Often, just thinking about how long it can take makes you give up.