islamabad - Something as simple as going for a brisk stroll could play an important role in fighting depression, according to researchers in Scotland. Vigorous exercise has already been shown to alleviate symptoms of depression, but the effect of less strenuous activities was unclear.

A study showed walking had a “large effect” on depression. One in 10 people may have depression at some point in their lives. The condition can be treated with drugs, but exercise is commonly prescribed by doctors for mild symptoms. Researchers at the University of Stirling scoured academic studies to find data on one of the mildest forms of exercise - walking. They found eight studies, on a total of 341 patients, which fitted the bill.

The report’s authors showed “walking was an effective intervention for depression” and had an effect similar to other more vigorous forms of exercise. They said: “Walking has the advantages of being easily undertaken by most people, incurring little or no financial cost and being relatively easy to incorporate into daily living.”

However, they cautioned that much more research needed to be done. There are still questions over how long, how fast and whether walking should take place indoors or outdoors.

Prof Adrian Taylor, who studies the effects of exercise on depression, addiction and stress at the University of Exeter, told the BBC: “The beauty of walking is that everybody does it.”

He added: “There are benefits for a mental-health condition like depression.”

How any form of exercise helps with depression is unclear. Prof Taylor said there were ideas about exercise being a distraction from worries, giving a sense of control and releasing “feel-good” hormones. The mental-health charity Mind said its own research found that spending time outdoors helped people’s mental health.

Its chief executive, Paul Farmer, said: “To get the most from outdoor activities it’s important to find a type of exercise you love and can stick at. Try different things, be it walking, cycling, gardening or even open-water swimming. “Exercising with others can have even greater impact, as it provides an opportunity to strengthen social networks, talk through problems with others or simply laugh and enjoy a break from family and work. So ask a friend to join you.”

2 hours of standing at work may boost your health

You’ve probably heard that sitting all day is bad for you, but just how long do you need to spend standing up at your desk, or ambling on a treadmill at the office, to see health benefits? A study from Australia suggests that replacing 2 hours of sitting a day with standing may improve people’s blood sugar and cholesterol levels; and that walking instead of sitting may have additional benefits for people’s waistlines.

“These findings provide important preliminary evidence that strategies to increase the amount of time spent standing or walking rather than sitting may benefit the heart and metabolism,” study researcher Genevieve Healy, of the University of Queensland’s School of Public Health, said in a statement. The study involved about 700 men and women ages 36 to 80 who wore an activity monitor 24 hours a day for a week. The monitors detected whether a participant was sitting, standing, stepping, lying down or sleeping. On average, the participants spent 8.8 hours a day sitting, 4.9 hours a day standing and 2 hours a day stepping. They also got about 1.2 hours a day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, on average. The researchers found that spending an extra 2 hours a day standing instead of sitting was linked with a 2 percent lower fasting blood sugar level, and an 11 percent lower level of triglycerides, or fats in the blood.

In addition, replacing 2 hours of sitting a day with stepping was linked with an 11 percent lower body mass index (BMI) and a 3-inch (7.5 cm) smaller waist circumference.

The findings “provide some indication that cardio-metabolic benefits, particularly to glucose and lipid metabolism, may be achieved when reducing sitting through increases in standing,” the researchers said.

However, treadmill-desks, which allow people to walk instead of sit, “may be the approach most likely to achieve the greatest adiposity benefits,” the researchers said.

The new study was conducted at a single point in time, so future studies that follow participants over time are needed to confirm the results.

In June, a panel of experts from the United Kingdom recommended that people with office jobs stand up for at least 2 hours a day at work.