A large-scale study from the University of Exeter found “strong evidence” that being overweight increases the risk of developing depression – but as new evidence confirms, logging your morning miles is one of the most effective ways. effective retaliation. Exercise stimulates your brain to action, and not just because of the high endorphin, according to the results of the Ruhr-UniversitÃ¤t Bochum.
Let’s take a look at the first study. The University of Exeter team looked at data from more than 145,000 participants, focusing on two key genetic variants to determine whether the increased risk of depression is caused by ‘psychosocial pathways’, such as stigma. social and societal expectations, or “physical pathways” such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
Scientists found that there was little difference between the two sets of genes, indicating that a mix of metabolic and psychological factors are responsible for the higher rates of depression seen in people with a BMI or a high body mass index (if you need a booster, BMI is a measurement of body fat based on a formula involving your height and weight).
âObesity and depression are two major challenges to global health, and our study provides the strongest evidence to date that a higher BMI causes depression,â said lead author Jess O’Loughlin. âUnderstanding whether physical or social factors are responsible for this relationship can help inform effective strategies for improving mental health and well-being.
âOur research suggests that being fatter carries a higher risk of depression, regardless of the role of metabolic health,â she continues. “This suggests that physical health and social factors, such as social stigma, both play a role in the relationship between obesity and depression.”
To ward off the Black Dog, lace up first. Exercise fights depression with a double blow, the Ruhr-UniversitÃ¤t Bochum team found: not only does it counteract symptoms, it also increases the brain’s ability to change, known as neuroplasticity. This ability, described as “the root of human experiences”, is known to be slowed down by depression.
For the study, they enrolled 41 people on treatment for depression and allocated half of them to a three-week exercise program developed by the sports science team at Bielefeld University (the other group served as control). Scientists established the severity of participants’ depressive symptoms before and after the program and recorded neuroplasticity using transcranial magnetic stimulation.
At the end of the three weeks, depressive symptoms decreased in the participants who completed the exercise program, while neuroplasticity “increased significantly.” âThe results show how important seemingly simple things like physical activity are in treating and preventing illnesses such as depression,â says associate professor Dr. Karin Rosenkranz, study leader.
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