These simple activities are as effective as therapy for depression, study finds

Sometimes the factors that contribute to mental health can be overwhelming.

But a recent study published on Jan. 15 in the medical journal BMJ has found that these simple activities can treat depression as well as therapy. 

You're telling me I have to exercise?

Don't freak out. These straightforward forms of exercise are not only low intensity, they can be performed anywhere. 

According to the study authors, walking, jogging, yoga, tai chi, aerobic exercises and strength training were extremely effective at treating depression. 

"Depression (affects) somewhere between (10%) and 25% of people. It hurts wellbeing more than debt, divorce, or diabetes," said lead study author Dr. Michael Noetel. "Still, only half of those with depression get any treatment."

After analyzing data from 218 studies on exercise and depression which included over 14,000 people, scientists argue that while these forms of exercise aren't a silver bullet for depression, they recommend that most people combine them with therapy. 

This may seem obvious

Everyone's heard of "runners high." A separate study published last year from Vrije University in Amsterdam compared the effects of antidepressants and running on anxiety, depression and overall health during a 16-week period.

The study included 141 patients who had depression and/or anxiety. They were given the option to choose to take SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants or to participate in group-based running therapy for a 16-week period, according to a press release from the university.

Most of the patients — 96 of them — chose running, while 45 chose antidepressants.

The results of the study, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders and presented at the ECNP Congress in Barcelona this weekend, showed that running and medications offer about the same benefits for mental health.

In terms of physical health, the running demonstrated improvements, while the antidepressants had a slightly negative impact.

One drawback of the running was that it had a much higher dropout rate, the study found.

"We wanted to compare how exercise or antidepressants affect your general health, not just your mental health," said lead researcher Brenda Penninx, a professor from Vrije University, Amsterdam, when she presented the work at the ECNP conference in Barcelona.

Melanie Avalon, a health influencer, entrepreneur and biohacker based in Atlanta, was not involved in the study, but previously offered her insights on how lifestyle factors can help prevent depression.

"Physical activity exhibits profound potential for preventing, mitigating and resolving depression," Avalon told Fox News Digital last month.

"Studies find that consistent exercise sessions can reduce depression severity on a moderate to large scale, without the potential negative side effects that may accompany pharmacological treatment."

FOX News contributed to this story.