Depression is one of the most common, and most stigmatized, illnesses of our time.  Emerging research finds even more evidence that exercise can help ward off depression in some people.

Exercise is one of those recommendations everybody loves to dish out. It’s easy to say, but sometimes hard to do. Yet nothing makes us feel healthier, than, well, being healthier. If you want to prevent clinical depression exercise may be an effective “treatment.”

A recent study followed 33,908 people for over 11 years. When researchers started the study in 1985, participants were screened to ensure that they were healthy, had no history of depression, and were not acutely depressed.

The study measured individual exercise habits, then continued to follow the individuals over the next 30 years. Over the course of the study, about 7% of participants became depressed.

The research found: Exercising for an average of only 90 minutes per week had a significant effect in preventing depression. Compared with sedentary people, people who exercised an hour or more a week were 44% less likely to become depressed. The study estimated that about 10 to 12 percent of clinical depression could be prevented if all adults exercised for a little over an hour a week.

Exercise alone is not a replacement for good mental health treatment and exercise can’t prevent depression in all cases, and certainly telling people struggling with depression simply to hit the gym is misinformed and stigmatizing.

Exercise, though, as a reliable intervention to help people improve their mood and mental health, including depression.