Physical activity and mental health

A focus on depression

Authored by: Guy Faulkner , Markus Duncan

Routledge Handbook of Physical Activity Policy and Practice

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  December  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138943087
eBook ISBN: 9781315672779
Adobe ISBN:


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The purpose of this chapter is to focus on the evidence for physical activity as a strategy to prevent and treat depression. There is a consistent body of literature that indicates being physically active prevents depression and that exercise can alleviate depressive symptoms. There is a range of plausible mechanisms that explain why physical activity may have an antidepressant effect. Challenges and implications for policy and practice are presented. Both physical activity and mental health professionals have important roles to play in establishing inter-professional dialogue and collaborating in developing structures of referral to supervised and structured exercise interventions.

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