According to a U.S. study, older women who spend more time exercising and less time watching television were less likely to be diagnosed with depression.
Researchers found that women who reported exercising the most in recent years were about 20 percent less likely to get depression than those who rarely exercised.
The team found that the more hours they spent watching TV each week, the more their risk of depression crept up.
“Higher levels of physical activity were associated with lower depression risk,” study author Michel Lucas, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, wrote in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
She said that more time spent being active might boost self-esteem and women’s sense of control, as well as the endorphins in their blood.
The report included about 50,000 women who filled out surveys every couple of years from 1992 to 2006 as part of the U.S. Nurses’ Health Study.
The participants recorded the amount of time they spent watching TV each week in 1992, and also answered questions about how often they walked, biked, ran and swam between 1992 and 2000.
Women also reported on the survey if they had any new diagnosis of clinical depression or medication taken to treat depression.
The analysis only included women who did not have depression in 1996. They found that over the next decade, 6,500 new cases of depression popped up.
The team then accounted for aspects of health and lifestyle linked to depression, including weight, smoking and a range of diseases.
Afterwards, they found that women who spent 90 minutes or more each day exercising were 20 percent less likely to be diagnosed with depression than those who exercised 10 minutes or less a day.
Women who watched three hours or more of television a day were 13 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those who hardly watched TV.
Researchers said one explanation could be that women might have been experiencing symptoms of depression before they were diagnosed, which lead them to exercise less.
“Previous studies have suggested that physical activity is associated with a lower risk of depressive symptoms,” Gillian Mead, who studies geriatric medicine at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary but was not involved in the study, said in a statement.
“(The finding) adds to the growing body of evidence that physical activity is important to maintain brain health,” she added in an email to Reuters Health.
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