Exercising is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but it becomes even more crucial during one’s teenage years. According to a Swedish study featured on Science Daily, lack of exercise at age 18 may slow down brain development, and increase the risk of becoming suicidal down the line.

Researchers from the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, analyzed data from the obligatory medical exams of 1,136,527 Swedish men who were born from 1950 to 1987. They found that, depression risk and genetics aside, lack of physical activity may increase the chances of poor mental health by 1.8 times. This may then result in drastic and dangerous self-inflicted violence—a link that holds true even 42 years later.

Enough physical exercise, however, seems to lower the risk. “One theory is that the brain becomes more resistant to different types of stress if you’re physically active,” says Maria Åberg, one of the researchers in the study.

(Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões via Flickr Creative Commons; photo used for illustrative purposes only)

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