Stopping exercise suddenly can result in increased depressive symptoms, according to a study. Julie Morgan, PhD student at the University of Adelaide in Australia, reviewed the results of earlier studies that examined the effects of stopping exercise in regularly active adults. “Adequate physical activity and exercise are important for both physical and mental health,” said Morgan, who published the review in the Journal of Affective Disorders. Current public health guidelines recommend being active on most if not all days of the week, researchers said. At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week is recommended to maintain health and prevent depression, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise for added health benefits, they said.
“An extensive body of clinical evidence shows that regular exercise can reduce and treat depression,” said Morgan. “However, there is limited research into what happens with depressive symptoms when exercise is stopped,” she said. Morgan reviewed studies that investigated the cessation of exercise in 152 adults. They had each undertaken at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times a week, for a minimum of three months.
“In some cases, ceasing this amount of exercise induced significant increases in depressive symptoms after just three days,” said Bernhard Baune, professor at the University of Adelaide. “Other studies showed that people’s depressive symptoms increased after the first one or two weeks, which is still quite soon after stopping their exercise,” said Baune.