Keeping fit can slash the risk of depression by a third, research reveals.

The benefit comes from hitting the National Health Service (NHS) target of 150 minutes of exercise a week. (NHS is part of England’s Department of Health and Social Care.)

It can include brisk walking, taking the stairs, cycling and gardening.

Experts claim it reduces stress and inflammation, both of which are linked to depression.

And feeling better physically is known to boost mental well-being. The latest findings come from analysis of studies around the world.

Greater levels of activity were linked to rising amounts of protection against depression.

Researcher Dr. Brendon Stubbs, head of physiotherapy at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our robust analysis of over a quarter of a million people found consistent evidence that people who are more active are less likely to develop depression in the future.

“People who met the government recommendations had the greatest decreased risk of developing depression, equating to a reduction of 31 percent compared to people not meeting government guidelines.

“The key message is that when it comes to reducing your chances of developing depression, some physical activity is better than none and the more you do the better your chances are.”

Only 66 percent of British men and 58 percent of women hit the 150-minute a week target.

NHS data shows demand for anti-depressants has doubled in a decade.

The number of prescriptions in 2017 reached 67.5 million, up from 33.8 million in 2007.

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