350 million people worldwide are affected by depression, yet only a fraction of these people receive the treatment they need. The stigma commonly associated with depression is one of the main reasons people do not seek support for their condition. Talking with others can help. So can physical activity.
This is why the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is joining American Public Health Association (APHA) to promote mental health in our communities.
On World Health Day, celebrated April 7th, the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization, WHO’s theme to mobilize action centers on fighting depression. The slogan, “Depression. Let’s talk,” reflects its key objective: that more people with depression, in all countries, seek and get help.
Talking is a key component of depression recovery as well as an important way to break down social stigma, and physical activity is another way to promote mental as well as physical health.
As National Public Health Week and World Health Day approach, PAHO and APHA encourage you to join the “Billion Steps Challenge” to fight depression and improve your overall health. “Let’s walk and talk!”
PAHO has agreed to collaborate with APHA on its “Billion Steps Challenge,” a National Public Health Week initiative encouraging people to come together and collectively walk one billion steps by April 9th.
Exercise also plays a vital role in depression prevention and treatment. Evidence shows that physical activity can serve as a protective factor for mental health and, even in small amounts can prevent the onset of depression1. Additionally, exercise can ease the symptoms of existing depression and anxiety. Research points to the role of “feel good” chemicals in the brain, like endorphins and neurotransmitters, that are released when we engage in physical activity2.
Walking is a great way to meet both physical activity and mental health goals. It’s free, fun and healthy. The American Heart Association recommends just thirty minutes of moderate intensity activity- which includes brisk walking- 5 times a week. Additional benefits include the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and socialize with others when you walk together.
- Mammen, G., Faulkner, G. (2013). Physical Activity and the Prevention of Depression A Systematic Review of Prospective Studies. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 45(5), 649-657.
- Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495