Can exercise prevent depression? Here’s what the science says

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(Jamie Ducharme/ Time) — Ask anyone who’s ever felt better after a workout, and they’ll tell you that exercise and mental health are related. Science backs up that gut feeling. Many studies have found that physical activity is linked to a lower risk of developing depression, and better outcomes for people who have it.

But does exercise actually prevent depression, or are people who don’t have depression simply more likely to be active?

A new study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, sheds some light on that question. Using genetic data from more than 600,000 adults enrolled in multiple genomic association studies, researchers found “more evidence than ever before that physical activity does play an important, and likely causal, role in reducing risk for depression,” says Karmel Choi, a clinical and research fellow in psychiatric and neurodevelopmental genetics at Massachusetts General Hospital and a co-author of the study. (…)

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