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STUDY: Physical activity is associated with a lower risk of prevalent and incident depression
JOURNAL: Am J Epidemiol 2002;156:328-334.
AUTHORS: Dr. William J. Strawbridge
ABSTRACT: Physical activity is associated with a lower risk of prevalent and incident depression among older adults.according to a report in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
COMMENTARY: Dr. William J. Strawbridge, of the Public Health Institute, Berkeley, California, and colleagues studied 1947 subjects from the Alameda County Study who were between 50 and 94 years of age at baseline and were followed for 5 years.
The investigators examined the effects of physical activity (measured on an 8-point scale) on depression, with and without excluding disabled patients.
Every 1-point increase in physical activity protected against both prevalent depression (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 0.90) and incident depression (adjusted OR = 0.83) over 5 years after adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, financial strain, chronic conditions, disability, body mass index, alcohol consumption, smoking, and social relations. The incidence results were not attenuated by exclusion of disabled patients (adjusted OR = 0.79), the researchers found.
Regular physical activity, such as walking, exercising, swimming, or playing active sports for older adults will reduce the risk of subsequent depression. This benefit is similar for those with and without physical disabilities.
The most common form of physical activity for members of the Alameda County Study is taking long walks, which shows that physical activity does not have to involve elaborate equipment.
The investigators note that it is plausible that persons with high levels of physical activity are also more likely to engage in other beneficial health behaviors such as not smoking, avoiding obesity, and not drinking to excess.
Keep in mind that a little exercise goes a long way.
Get out there and do something.