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Exercise Helps You Cope With Post Heart Attack Depression, Study

Update Date: Feb 29, 2016 11:43 AM EST

Exercise helps individuals to cope better with post heart attack depression, says a new study by researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Depression tends to be three times more among those who have suffered from heart attack, compared to those who have not experienced them. However, those who have been exposed to more regular exercise before heart attacks tend to be less likely to be depressed later.

"Physical activity protects people from depression after a heart attack," Linda Ernstsen, lead author of the study, said in a press release.

The study was published in the January issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

Using information from the Nord-Trøndelag HUNT studies on 120,000 people through three time periods, ie 1984 to 1986, 1995 to 1997, and 2006 to 2008, Ernstsen and her team found that it could learn about the health of a large group of people and link them to changing lifestyle factors, including exercise.

Looking at 189 middle-aged and older individuals in all three HUNT studies, the team found that they had suffered their first heart attack after being part of the second study. "Physically active individuals" were those who exercised for "a minimum of 150 minutes per week at a moderate intensity level or 75 minutes at a high-intensity level".

More than 17 percent of those who never exercised underwent depression after their heart attack. Those who exercised during their first study period but stopped in the second period exhibited a 12.5 percent rate of depression later.

"It's never too late to start exercising," Ernstsen said.

"Conversely, those who exercised regularly throughout the three studies showed the lowest levels of depression after their heart attack, with just 7.5 percent of participants suffering from it. Interestingly, even participants who did not exercise at the beginning but did so during the second study fared better, with only 9.1 percent of them suffering from depression after their heart attack," according to HNGN.

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