Fitness in mid-life could help fight depression

The study sought to find out if higher cardiorespiratory fitness in mid-life was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular (CVD) mortality (CVD) and incidents of depression past 65 years of age.

What is depression?

According to Wikipedia, depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, tendencies, feelings, and sense of well-being. A depressed mood is a normal temporary reaction to life events such as loss of a loved one. It is also a symptom of some physical diseases and a side effect of some drugs and medical treatments. Depressed mood is also a symptom of some mood disorders such as major depressive disorder or dysthymia.

Back to study

Its main objective of the study was to determine whether fitness measured in midlife would be inversely associated with later-life CVD mortality with antecedent depression. The results show that being fit in mid-life is associated with a lower risk of later-life depression and subsequent CVD mortality, even in the presence of depression.

Fit in mid-life

“Men and women who are more physically fit at mid-life have a lower risk of depression and cardiovascular mortality after a diagnosis of depression in later life, suggesting that fitness is an important part of a primary preventive strategy for cardiovascular disease and depression across the lifespan.”

The findings suggest the importance of fitness in primary prevention of heart disease and associated CVD mortality in older adults.

“In this cohort study of Medicare-eligible patients, higher levels of fitness in mid-life were associated with a 16% lower risk of depression,” the report says.

It adds that after diagnosis of depression, higher levels of fitness were associated with a 56% lower risk of cardiovascular mortality.

Scientists, led by Dr Madhukar Trivedi, Director of the Centre for Depression Research and Clinical Care at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in Dallas, USA, report that being physically fit can lower the risk of developing depression.

It can also lower the risk of developing heart disease and dying early. Trivedi says depression has a complicated relationship with other major medical diseases, especially for elder people.

This study further supports the critical need for healthcare professionals to consider fitness and physical activity as part of overall preventive care to promote healthy ageing.

A total of 17 989 participants with a mean age of 50 were included in the study. A high fitness level was also associated with a 61% lower risk of death due to CVD without depression, compared with a low level of fitness.

After a diagnosis of depression, a high fitness level was associated with a 56% lower risk of death due to CVD, compared with a low fitness level.



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