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Staying fit may help combat risk of depression, heart disease in middle age

July 5, 2018 depression


Of all the age groups, middle-aged people have been found to be the least happy, with the lowest levels of life satisfaction and the highest levels of anxiety issues. They are also at a high risk of being diagnosed with depression that may remain undiagnosed for long. While health care practitioners largely rely on antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to treat depression, a recent study has found that staying physically fit can help lower the risk of depression that develops during the middle age, and reduce the chances of heart disease and early death.

The study, published in the JAMA Psychiatry on June 27, 2018, was led by Dr. Benjamin Willis, director of epidemiology at The Cooper Institute. Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, director of the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and second author of the study, said that people with depression typically have a lower life expectancy as they are at a high risk of developing other comorbid chronic illnesses. Therefore, exercising can be a great way to improve overall fitness, and thereby the life expectancy.

Study findings

The study was based on the data collected from about 18,000 people aged around 50 years during the ongoing Cooper Center Longitudinal Study, which was being conducted to analyze the impact of exercise on a variety of health outcomes. For the current study, the data included information about the participants’ level of fitness that was measured on the basis of their exercise regimen, diagnosis of depression as per the Medicare claims, heart-related issues and the cause of death, if applicable.

After following up with the subjects for 40 years, the researchers arrived at the following conclusions:

  1. The risk of depression was 16 percent lower among people who exercised regularly as compared to less fit individuals.
  2. The risk of death due to heart disease was found to be 61 percent lower among people with higher fitness level.
  3. People who were diagnosed with depression had a 56 percent lower risk of death due to heart-related problems as compared to those with low fitness levels.

Regular exercise helpful in depression treatment

Dr. Trivedi recommends that along with antidepressants, exercise should also be professionally prescribed to treat the disorder in a more effective way. He calls exercise as a “bonafide treatment of depression.” The study clarified that exercise can be really beneficial for people affected by both depression and heart disease. However, further study is required to verify if changing fitness levels can indeed lower the risk of depressive disorders and heart diseases.

It is important to understand that depression is a severe form of mental illness and needs to be treated as soon as detected. Being aware of its symptoms and the ways it affects one’s life can be really helpful in identifying the disorder and getting the right treatment. If you or a loved one is struggling with depression and looking for a credible depression treatment center in your vicinity, Recover Mental Health can help you. Call at our 24/7 helpline (866) 593-2339 or chat online with our team member for details about the finest depression treatment offered at a treatment center for depression near you.

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