The new issue of the American Psychiatric Association’s *Psychiatric
News* (Volume 44, Number 1) includes an article: “Link Grows Stronger
That Exercise Can Avert Depression; Exercise seems to be capable of
preventing depression in both men and women. But when it comes to high-
intensity exercise, men seem to benefit more” by Joan Arehart-Treichel.
PLEASE NOTE: Immediately below are excerpts from the *Psychiatry News*
article; beneath those excerpts I’ve included the abstract of the
original *Journal of Psychiatric Research* study and along with contact
info for the senior author.
Here are some excerpts from the *Psychiatric News* article:
[A] new study, with a large number of subjects and a prospective design,
has also linked exercise with less depression.
Its results bolster the argument that exercise can prevent depression,
Xuemei Sui, M.D., a research associate at the University of South
Carolina and the lead investigator, believes. “Improving one’s fitness
can not only lower many disease risks such as cardiovascular disease and
certain types of cancer,… but also benefit one’s mental well-being,”
Ronald Kamm, M.D., a sport psychiatrist in Oakhurst, N.J., and a past
president of the International Society for Sport Psychiatry, concurs
with Sui. “This is a good study,” he said. “It adds to the literature
showing a preventive effect of exercise regarding depression.”
The study, which started in 1970, involved more than 14,000 men and
women enrolled in the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study in Dallas.
Their cardiorespiratory fitness was measured at the start of the study
with a maximum treadmill exercise test. They were evaluated for
depression one or two times during the follow-up period, which ranged
from one to 15 years, with the average being 12 years. At the end of
that time, 1,022 subjects reported having had depressive symptoms at the
time of either or both assessments.
The researchers found that subjects who had been more fit at the start
of the study were significantly less likely to experience depression
during the follow-up period than were subjects who had been less fit at
Further, the results held even when a number of possibly confounding
factors–baseline physical examination year, depression survey year,
smoking status, alcohol consumption, body mass index, high blood
pressure, and diabetes–were considered.
And perhaps most strikingly, there appeared to be a dose-response
relationship between fitness and the prevention of depression.
“I’m also glad that the researchers talked about the obesity-depression
link [in their report], as psychiatrists need to be aware of that,” Kamm said.
Indeed, Sui and her colleagues found that obese subjects had a
significantly higher risk of depressive symptoms than nonobese subjects,
and in a previous study, that overweight or obese postmenopausal women
could improve their physical fitness with as little as 72 minutes of
moderately intense physical exercise a week.
An abstract of “Prospective Study of Cardiorespiratory Fitness and
Depressive Symptoms in Women and Men” can be accessed at
<www.sciencedirect.com> by clicking on “J” under “Browse by Title,” then
“Journal of Psychiatric Research,” then “Articles in Press.”
The article is online at:
Here’s the abstract of the original study (“Prospective Study of
Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Depressive Symptoms in Women and Men”)
appearing in *Journal of Psychiatric Research*: “Most studies of the
relationship between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and depression have
been limited to cross-sectional designs. The objective of this study was
to follow individuals over time to examine whether those with higher
levels of CRF have lower risk of developing depressive symptoms.
Participants were 11,258 men and 3085 women enrolled in the Aerobics
Center Longitudinal Study in Dallas, TX. All participants completed a
maximal treadmill exercise test at baseline (1970-1995) and a follow-up
health survey in 1990 and/or 1995. Individuals with a history of a
mental disorder, cardiovascular disease, or cancer were excluded. CRF
was quantified by exercise test duration, and categorized into age and
sex-stratified groups as low (lowest 20%), moderate (middle 40%), or
high (upper 40%). Depressive symptoms were assessed using the 20-item
Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Those who
scored 16 or more on the CES-D were considered to have depressive
symptoms. After an average of 12 years of follow-up, 282 women and 740
men reported depressive symptoms. After adjusting for age, baseline
examination year, and survey response year, the odds of reporting
depressive symptoms were 31% lower for men with moderate CRF (odds
ratio, OR 0.69; 95% confidence interval, CI 0.56-0.85) and 51% lower for
men with high CRF (OR 0.49, CI 0.39-0.60), compared to men with low CRF.
Corresponding ORs for women were 0.56 (CI 0.40-0.80) and 0.46 (CI 0.32-
0.65). Higher CRF is associated with lower risk of incident depressive
symptoms independent of other clinical risk predictors.”
The author note of the *Journal of Psychiatric Research* article states
that correspondence about the article may be sent to <email@example.com>.