Research findings suggest poor diet and inadequate physical exercise contribute to the development and course of depression. Further to the recommendation that people should improve both their eating habits and partake in regular exercise in an attempt to both reduce their chances of developing depression and treat depression, they should also stop smoking.
With regard to how much exercise is recommended to effectively impact on depression, the authors of the article noted below suggest it should be in line with national guidelines (at least 30 minutes at moderate intensity, on most if not all days). Other researchers investigating the impact of exercise on depression have found between 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise each day (e.g. a brisk walk) can safeguard you when it comes to depression.
With regard to diet, it is suggested that eating healthier has a positive impact on various aspects of mental/ emotional health (not just depression!). So what do the researchers mean with regard to 'eating healthier'? Optimise your fruit and vegetable consumption, and reduce the amount of processed foods you consume.
As for the parents out there, you may find it of interest that research findings suggest if children partake in regular physical exercise during their childhood, they may be less likely to develop depression in adulthood (even when the amount of physical exercise in adulthood is controlled for).
So, what's the bottom line? We all know that there are lots of benefits when it comes to regular exercise and healthy eating. For those prone to depression, they have even more of a reason to improve their diet and exercise!
For more information, see the article below.
Article details: Jacka, F.N. & Berk, M. (2012). Depression, diet and exercise. Medical Journal of Australia, 1 (4), 21-23.