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Fewer Depressive Symptoms Linked To More Frequent Activity In Adults At Most Ages

Update Date: Oct 16, 2014 10:38 AM EDT

Physical activity is known to reduce risk of death, stroke and some cancers, but a new study suggests activity can also lower the risk for depressive symptoms. 

However, the evidence on activity and depression has limitation, the study noted. 

Researchers examined if depressive symptoms are concurrent with physical activity levels. They also examined whether activity influences the level of symptoms and if the level of symptoms influences activity.

Using data from about 11,000 participants in a 1958 British birth cohort, where participants were followed to age 50 years, researchers found that more activity frequency predicted a lower number of depressive symptoms (per higher frequency of activity per week, symptoms were lower by 0.06 at age 50 years). 

Among those inactive at any age, increasing activity from 0 to 3 times per week five years later reduced the odds of depression by 19 percent, the press release added. 

The study also noted the relation between higher levels of depressive symptoms and less frequent physical activity. 

"Findings suggest that activity may alleviate depressive symptoms in the general population and, in turn, depressive symptoms in early adulthood may be a barrier to activity," authors wrote in the study. 

The study has been published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry. 

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