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No Link Between Adolescence Exercise and Depression

Update Date: Oct 13, 2014 08:20 PM EDT

New research on adolescents reveals no link between physical activity and depressive symptoms.

Researchers said that the study is important because reducing depression benefits society by cutting personal and financial costs. Previous research reveals that the onset of depression generally happens during adolescence or earlier. Because of this, researchers believe that preventative measures during adolescence could help prevent the mental illness.

The latest study involved 736 participants with an average of 14.5 years. Participants were followed for up to three years. Researchers looked at participants' physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE) and moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) measures, which were divided into weekday and weekend activity.  Participants were also asked to fill out questionnaires that measured their mood symptoms, and undergo interviews three years after baseline.

Researchers said the findings revealed no link between the levels of physical activity at 14 years of age and depressive outcomes at 17 years of age.

"Our findings do not eliminate the possibility that PA positively affects depressed mood in the general population; rather, we suggest that this effect may be small or nonexistent during the period of adolescence. ... Our findings carry important public policy implications because they help to clarify the effect of PA on depressive symptoms in the general population. Although PA has numerous benefits to physical health in later life, such positive effects may not be expected on depressive outcomes during adolescence," researcher Umar Toseeb, Ph.D., of the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, concluded in a press release.

The findings are published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

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