Higher levels of physical exercise linked to reduced depressive symptoms among the elderly

Via Peters

Physical exercise appears to have a significant and beneficial impact on depression in the elderly, according to new research published in the journal Revista Brasileira de Medicina do Esporte.

Depressive disorder is a serious health concern among the elderly. Depression consists of feelings of loneliness, helplessness, worthlessness, and sometimes leads to suicide. Research shows that traditional therapies, such as psychotherapy, are not as effective in treating depression among the elderly population due to the elderly’s unique physiological and psychological characteristics. Researcher Linyan Dang, from Henan Finance University in China, was interested in studying the effects of physical exercise on depression among the elderly population.

Dang recruited 145 males and 125 females over the age of 60 to respond to survey items from the Physical Exercise Scale and the Elderly and Brink’s Concise Depression Scale for the Elderly. Results from this study show that most participants had a positive attitude toward physical exercise. About 25 % of the participants were classified as having depression, 6% of which had severe depression.

The data show a negative correlation between marital status and health status and depression in that those with worse marital and health status were more depressed. Data analyses showed that depression scores were lower among participants who had a more positive exercise attitude, exercised moderately intensely, exercised more often, and had a better experience after exercising.

For instance, elderly individuals who reported exercising 3 to 4 times per week were more depressed than those who exercised 5 to 7 times a week. Furthermore, depression scores were lower for individuals who exercised with a partner compared to alone. This study also shows that women were slightly more depressed than men.

Dang argues that physical exercise among the elderly cannot be ignored regarding depression because physical exercise appears to alleviate depressive symptoms more so than other therapies. She also argues that the elderly should maintain a positive attitude about physical exercise and incorporate it into their daily routine. Including physical exercise in a daily routine may help prevent depression in the elderly, but further research is needed.

The study, “Physical exercises in relieving the current state of depression“, was published November 29, 2021.

Higher levels of physical exercise linked to reduced depressive symptoms among the elderly

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