Pump Up to Cheer Up

It's never to late to add an exercise routine to your life and keep depression at bay.

By Melanie LeTourneau, published May 1, 2001 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Sometimes all it takes to dump the doldrums is a quick walk or slow jog outdoors—and there's plenty of research to prove it.

Especially for older adults suffering from depression, getting the body moving helps the mind feel better. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 6% of Americans aged 65 or older experience some form of depression. Encouragingly, a review of 32 studies in the Journal of Aging and Physical Activity suggests that physical activity, especially when it includes weight training, can improve a person's mood.

Low-intensity exercise that includes weightlifting improves the overall mood of older adults even more than just aerobic exercise, says Shawn Arent, a researcher from Arizona State University. "Adults aged 65 and older who exercised were not only happier, but had more overall vigor and calmness" he says.

It's never too late to start, Arent says. In fact, individuals who introduced moderate activity to their formerly inactive lifestyles noticed the most pronounced benefits. Arent recommends checking with a doctor before starting a work out program, and says that though getting out of a rut of inactivity might seem daunting, the results are worth it. "It doesn't have to be intense exercise," he points out. "Just get active, do something"