Researchers at the University of South Australia called for exercise to be a primary approach to managing depression, after their new study showed it was 1.5 times more effective than counseling or medication in improving mental health.
The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, was based on a review of 97 studies and 1,039 previous trials, involving more than 128,000 participants.
The results showed that an exercise program of 12 weeks or less of light, moderate exercise was more effective in reducing symptoms of psychological problems related to depression and anxiety.
The benefits were seen most among people with depression, pregnant women, postpartum women, and those with kidney disease and severe viruses.
It is reported that mental health treatments cost the global economy about $2.5 trillion annually, and it is expected to rise to $6 trillion in 2030.
Exercises with a positive effect included: walking, aerobics, resistance training or weights, pilates, and yoga.