The results show even small amounts of exercise can protect against depression, with mental health benefits seen regardless of age or gender.
The study involved more than 30,000 adults who had their levels of exercise and symptoms of depression and anxiety monitored over 11 years.
The study found that 12 per cent of cases of depression could have been prevented if participants undertook just one hour of physical activity each week.
According to an Australian health survey, 20 per cent of Australian adults do not undertake any regular physical activity, and more than a third spend less than 1.5 hours per week being physically active.
At the same time, around 1 million Australians have depression, with one in five Australians aged 16-85 experiencing a mental illness in any year.
To improve your physical and mental wellbeing through exercise, see the institute’s Exercise your Mood campaign.