The Korea Herald


Walking can help ease depression, suicidal impulse: study

By Park Jun-hee

Published : Sept. 27, 2023 - 12:16

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Regular walking can reduce and prevent symptoms of depression in middle-aged people, a study showed Wednesday.

According to the latest edition of the Frontiers in Psychiatry, which publishes peer-reviewed research on psychiatry, a collaborative research team of Yonsei University’s College of Medicine, the Department of Psychiatry at Ajou University and Soon Chun Hyang University Bucheon Hospital found that middle-aged people who engaged in walking every week felt better emotionally and were at less risk of suicide.

The finding came to light in research conducted from 2016 to 2018 on 6,886 participants aged between 40 and 60 who participated in the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The report showed that those who averaged walking exercises five times a week were less prone to developing depression than those who didn’t. In particular, the risk of developing suicidal impulses among middle-aged people who regularly walked was 75 percent lower than participants who didn’t.

The research team analyzed that regular moderate exercise like walking enhances one’s mood, emotional function and even stress, as the activity can release various neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, epinephrine and endorphins. The study also assumed that walking can control brain-derived neurotrophic factors associated with depression and suicidal behaviors.

Since regular daily physical activity is linked to a reduction in depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts, the study noted that walking for at least 30 minutes a day, especially for middle-aged people, can help sustain healthy and better mental health and overall well-being.

If you’re thinking about self-harm or suicide, contact the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s helpline, 1393, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please request a translator for English-language services.