Getting fit may help prevent later depression, heart disease
Most estimates suggest that more than 15 million American adults are currently living with clinical depression, a condition which can be disabling and has dire effects on a person’s social and professional lives. But, what if adult depression could be prevented?
A large new study published in JAMA Psychiatry claims a simple lifestyle change could be all it takes to combat depression starting in middle-age.
The researchers behind the study, led by Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, found that being physically fit can effectively reduce the risk of developing depression and heart disease.
“Depression doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” says Trivedi, director of the center for depression research and clinical care at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “Especially for people who are older, depression has a complicated relationship with other major medical diseases.”
In the study, Trivedi and his colleagues examined data collected from nearly 18,000 people enrolled in the Cooper Center Longitudinal Study, an ongoing study assessing the role of exercise on health outcomes.
Over the course of the study, the researchers followed participants for almost 40 years and observed that those who were more physically fit showed a 16% lower risk of depression as they aged compared to those with lower fitness group.
The findings also showed that being more fit reduced the risk of dying from heart disease by 61%. Among those diagnosed with depression, those with higher fitness had a 56% lower risk of dying from heart-related issues.
This is far from the first study to find that exercise or better fitness improve depression or lower heart disease risk. However, it is the first to find a correlation that indicates exercise can help people with both conditions.