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Study Finds No Link between Exercise and Depressive Symptoms in Kids

Update Date: Oct 13, 2014 04:02 PM EDT

A new study is questioning the link between exercise and depression. According to the researchers from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, adolescents who were physically active did not reduce their risk of developing depressive symptoms.

For this study, the team headed by Umar Toseeb, Ph.D. analyzed data on 736 adolescents with the average age of 14.5. The researchers tracked the adolescents' energy expenditure. Depressive symptoms and moods were measured via a questionnaire as well as an interview that took place at baseline and during the follow-up. The study lasted from November 2005 to January 2010 and follow-ups took place three years after the baseline.

The researchers discovered that physical activity levels were not linked to a future risk of developing depressive symptoms. This study's findings contradict the findings from several previous studies that suggested that physical activity can reduce people's risk of depression.

 "Our findings do not eliminate the possibility that PA (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 concluded according to the press release. "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."

The study was published in JAMA Pediatrics.

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