Although widely known, new research shows how excessive amounts of television watching combined with a sedentary lifestyle is a sure recipe for depression. Unfortunately, these are the very activities that generally describe the typical American lifestyle, excluding poor nutrition and pharmaceutical dependency. Therefore, is it any surprise that depression and mental illness run rampant in the United States, with half of all Americans to be diagnosed with a mental disorder within their lifetime?
The study, conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, observed thousands of older women with varying degrees of physical activity and television watching. What the study found is that the women who exercised the most and watched the least television were least likely to be diagnosed as being depression, with physical activity having the largest impact.
The researchers’ findings, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, stated that women who reported exercising most were about 20 percent less likely to develop depression than those who rarely exercised.
Depression Feeds on Excessive Television Watching, Fended off by Physical Activity
Including close to 50,000 women, the study participants filled out health surveys every 2 years from the year 1992 to 2006. The women were asked to fill out the time they spent watching TV each week in 1992, and answered questions about how often they walked, ran, biked, and swam between 1992 and 2000. In addition, the women were instructed to report any new diagnosis of clinical depression or medication taken to treat depression.
The analysis started in 1996, including only women who did not have depression. Over the next decade, there were 6,500 new cases of depression.
“Higher levels of physical activity were associated with lower depression risk,” wrote study author Michel Lucas, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.
While peak physical activity slashed the risk of depression by 20%, women who watched 3 hours or more of television per day were 13% more likely to develop depression than those who hardly watched television at all.