Physical Activity Tied to Less Depression in Young Children — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
January 9, 2017

Physical Activity Tied to Less Depression in Young Children

By Amy Orciari Herman

Edited by Susan Sadoughi, MD, and André Sofair, MD, MPH

Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity is associated with fewer depression symptoms even in elementary-school-aged children, according to an observational study in Pediatrics.

Some 800 children in Norway were assessed for depression and level of physical activity (using waist accelerometers) at ages 6, 8, and 10 years. The prevalence of major depression was under 0.5% at all three ages.

In adjusted analyses, higher levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity at ages 6 and 8 were associated with fewer depression symptoms 2 years later. Each hour of activity per day conferred roughly 0.2 fewer depression symptoms. Sedentary behavior, however, was not associated with major depression.

The authors write, "Although the effects of [physical activity] were small, they are similar to those obtained by psychosocial intervention programs in children and adolescents." They conclude, "Increasing [physical activity] in children at the population level may prevent depression, at least at subclinical levels."

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