Active Teens Less Prone to Depression
Physical Activity May Help Symptoms of Depression Among Adolescents
July 1, 2004 -- Playing sports or just being active may help
adolescents reduce their risk of depression, according to a new study.
The study shows that 7th graders who were physically
active were less likely to suffer from depression, and students who increased
their level of physical activity during the next two years had a lower risk of
Researchers say this is the first long-term study to show that
an increase in physical activity can reduce the risk of depression among
adolescent boys and girls.
An estimated 8%-9% of early adolescents in the U.S. suffer from
depression. Girls are twice as likely as boys to develop depression during
adolescence than boys.
If untreated, depression in teens can lead to academic failure,
social isolation, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use, and suicide.
Physical Activity May Fight Teen Depression
The study, which appears in the May-June issue of the journal
Psychosomatic Medicine, followed more than 4,500 Minnesota students for
two years. At the start of the study in the fall of 1998, when the students
were starting 7th grade, they were asked if they got 20 minutes of
exercise at least three times a week and screened for depression.
Researchers found that depression was less common among
adolescents who reported higher levels of physical activity.
Two years later, the study showed that an increase in physical
activity was associated with a decrease in symptoms of depression.
Although the magnitude of the change was small (amounting to
only about a 3% change in symptoms of depression) researchers say it's
"It is important to investigate the efficacy of low-risk
interventions for reducing depression symptoms, such as physical activity, that
may be more acceptable to youth and their families," writes researcher
Robert Motl, of the University of Georgia and colleagues.