One 30-Minute Workout May Relieve Symptoms of Depression

Exercising for just 30 minutes may significantly reduce symptoms of depression and amplify the benefits of therapy, according to a recent study from Iowa State University.

The study evaluated the magnitude, timing, and duration of the psychological effects of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity cycling exercise compared to quiet rest in 30 adults with major depressive disorder (MDD). Participants completed questionnaires before, during, and after the exercise session and the results were evaluated changes in three characteristics of MDD, such as depressed mood state, difficulty experiencing pleasure from activities previously enjoyed (anhedonia), and decreased cognitive function. Researchers found that the beneficial psychological effects of exercise on depression and mood lasted up to 75 minutes post-workout.

Jacob Meyer, PhD, a professor of kinesiology at Iowa State University and the lead author of the paper, says, “The cool thing is these benefits to depressed mood state and anhedonia could last beyond 75 minutes. We would need to do a longer study to determine when they start to wane, but the results suggest a window of time post-exercise when it may be easier or more effective for someone with depression to do something psychologically or cognitively demanding.”

Read the study abstract online at



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