Exercise May Not Reduce Depression Risk, Study Finds
Exercise May Not Reduce Depression Risk, Study Finds

Exercise May Not Reduce Depression Risk, Study Finds

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have found no evidence linking physical activity and development of depressive symptoms in adolescence.

“Our findings do not eliminate the possibility that [physical activity] positively affects depressed mood in the general population; rather, we suggest that this effect may be small or nonexistent during the period of adolescence,” the authors wrote.

The authors studied 736 children who were 14.5 years old on average.

Umar Toseeb, PhD, from the University of Cambridge in the UK, was the lead study author.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, almost 11 percent of young people are depressed by age 18. There has been little research on whether exercise can affect depression in this age group.

Dr. Toseeb and team measured the amount of exercise the children did each day. The youth in the study wore a monitor that recorded their heart rate and sensed their movements.

The team measured which activities were moderate and vigorous physical activities (MVPAs). They defined MVPAs as activities that were four or more times as strenuous as sitting — measured by heart rate and movements.

Three years later, the research team looked at mood and depression symptoms in the kids.

The study authors found that the amount of exercise children got when they were around 14 years old did not predict whether they would be depressed at age 17. Children who were active at early ages did not have an increased or decreased risk for depression a few years later.

The results were the same in boys and girls.

The authors noted that their study did not assess the effects of short-term activity – activity done closer to age 17 – on depression.


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