(HealthDay News) – Bariatric surgery candidates who meet relatively low thresholds of physical activity are less likely to have recently received treatment for anxiety or depression compared with less active people, according to a study published in the February issue of the Journal of Psychosomatic Research.

Wendy C. King, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues studied the association between physical activity and mental health in 85 adults with class 2 or higher obesity who were candidates for bariatric surgery.

The researchers found that each of the physical activity parameters assessed (mean daily steps, active minutes, and high-cadence minutes) correlated with lower odds of depressive symptoms and/or treatment for anxiety or depression. These parameters were not associated with impaired mental health functioning. Only the association with treatment for depression and anxiety remained significant after adjustment for sociodemographics and physical health. Thresholds of <191 active minutes per day; <4,750 steps per day; and <8 high-cadence minutes per day differentiated those who had versus those who had not received depression and/or anxiety treatment. The highest classification accuracy was observed with high-cadence minutes.

“Although causality cannot be established, our findings are encouraging and should leverage further investigation of the role of physical activity in the prevention and treatment of depression and anxiety in adults with class 2 and class 3 obesity, as physical activity may prove to be a comparatively safe and cost-effective treatment option,” the authors write.

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