Bidirectional Link Between Physical Activity, Depression

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Activity, Depression
Activity, Depression

(HealthDay News) — Physical activity is associated with a trend toward fewer depressive symptoms, and the correlation is bidirectional, according to research published in the December issue of JAMA Psychiatry.

Snehal M. Pinto Pereira, PhD, from University College London, and colleagues examined the association between depressive symptoms and physical activity. Data were obtained from about 11,000 members of the 1958 British Birth Cohort, who were followed up to age 50 years (2008).

The researchers observed a trend toward fewer depressive symptoms with more frequent activity at most ages. In longitudinal analyses, from 23–50 years of age, activity correlated with fewer symptoms, and the magnitude of the association did not vary with age. There was no change in symptom level for those who were inactive at age 23 and remained inactive five years later (mean difference, −0.01); in contrast, there was a lower mean number of symptoms for those increasing activity to three times/week (mean difference, −0.18). These differences represented an estimated 19% reduction in the odds of depression. For those with no symptoms at age 23 years and five years later, mean activity was higher by 0.60 times/week; mean activity was 0.53 times/week higher for those with one additional depressive symptom.

"The relationship between activity and depressive symptoms was bidirectional, albeit more persistent during adult life in the direction from activity to depressive symptoms," the authors write.

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