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November 19, 2020 Thursday 11:40:04 AM IST

Low fitness linked to higher depression and anxiety risk

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People with low aerobic and muscular fitness are nearly twice as likely to experience depression, finds a new study led by UCL researchers. Low fitness levels also predicted a 60% greater chance of anxiety, over a seven-year follow-up, according to the findings published in BMC Medicine. The study involved 152,978 participants aged 40 to 69 of the UK Biobank study. Their baseline aerobic fitness at the start of the study period was tested by using a stationary bike with increasing resistance, while their muscular fitness was measured with a grip strength test. They also completed a questionnaire gauging depression and anxiety symptoms. Seven years later they were tested again for depression and anxiety symptoms, and the researchers found that high aerobic and muscular fitness at the start of the study was associated with better mental health seven years later.

People with the lowest combined aerobic and muscular fitness had 98% higher odds of depression, 60% higher odds of anxiety, and 81% higher odds of having either one of the common mental health disorders, compared to those with high levels of overall fitness. The researchers accounted for potentially confounding factors at baseline such as diet, socioeconomic status, chronic illness, and mental illness symptoms.

The research involved academics at UCL, King’s College London and Harvard University, and was supported by Wellcome, the Medical Research Council, the UK Department of Health, the Scottish government, Northwest Regional Development Agency, Welsh Assembly government, the British Heart Foundation, the ESRC, and the NIHR Biomedical Research Centres at UCLH and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.



(Content Courtesy: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2020/nov/low-fitness-linked-higher-depression-and-anxiety-risk)

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