New Study Finds Exercise Can Lower Risk of Depression in Those Over 50
A new study published in JAMA Network Open reveals that those over 50 who exercise for at least 20 minutes five times a week may have a lower risk of depression than those who don’t. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Limerick, aimed to understand the minimum amount of physical activity necessary to combat depression.
The study focused on the benefits of shorter workouts and found that the risk of depressive symptoms continued to decrease with increasing time spent exercising. The researchers also noted that individuals with certain chronic conditions may need to exercise more than those without those conditions to achieve the same mental health benefits.
The study involved 4,016 participants enrolled in the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging, with a mean age of 61 years and a majority of women. Data was collected from participants at different time points over several years.
To determine the severity of participants’ depression, the researchers used two different tools: the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression Scale (CES-D) and the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). The CES-D is a 20-item questionnaire that measures the frequency of mental health-related symptoms or feelings. The CIDI helps experts determine if a person is suffering from panic disorder, general anxiety disorder, or major depression.
The results of the study showed that individuals over 50 without chronic conditions who exercised for 100 minutes per week, equivalent to five 20-minute workouts, had a 16% lower rate of depressive symptoms. These individuals were also 43% less likely to have suffered from major depression. Furthermore, participants who exceeded 100 minutes of exercise per week saw even greater benefits to their mental health, with a 23% lower rate of depressive symptoms and a 49% lower likelihood of suffering from major depression.
The study authors also highlighted the possibility that seniors who exercise more may also engage in other healthy lifestyle habits, such as balanced diets and social commitments, which could contribute to their reduced risk of depression.
Overall, the study emphasizes the strong relationship between physical activity and mental health, particularly in the older population. It suggests that even moderate exercise can have significant health benefits and reduce the risk of depression in those over 50.