Physical activity protects against depression

An international team including researchers from King’s College London have found physical activity can protect against the emergence of depression, regardless of age and geographical region.

runningResearchers from Brazil, Belgium, Australia, USA, UK and Sweden pooled data from 49 unique cohort studies of people free from mental illness, and examined if physical activity is associated with a decreased risk of developing depression.

The findings have been published in The American Journal of Psychiatry. In total, 266,939 individuals were included, with a gender distribution of 47% males, and on average the individuals were followed up after 7.4 years. Once the data was extracted they found that compared with people with low levels of physical activity, those with high levels had lower odds of developing depression in the future.

Furthermore, physical activity had a protective effect against the emergence of depression in youths, in adults, and in the elderly and across geographical regions.

Co-author Dr Brendon Stubbs, post-doctoral research physiotherapist, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College London and Head of Physiotherapy at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, said:

Given the multitude of other health benefits of physical activity, our data adds to the pressing calls to prioritise physical activity across the lifespan.

The King’s Health Partners Mind & Body programme is committed to joining up mental and physical healthcare, training and research to improve health outcomes for our patients and service users. Read a blog from Dr Brendon Stubbs, about his research into the benefits of physical activity for our mental and physical health.

Read more on the King’s College London website.

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