The effect of changes in physical activity behaviour on depressive symptoms among European older adults
Andreas Ihle 2,3,4
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Faculty of Human Kinetics, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Gerontology and Vulnerability, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES – Overcoming Vulnerability: Life Course Perspectives, Lausanne and Geneva, Switzerland
Department of Psychology, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
School of Physical Activity, Sport and Health Sciences, University of Santiago, Santiago, Chile
Human Performance Laboratory; Education, Physical Activity and Health Study Group, Catholic University of Maule, Talca, Chile
Department of Physical Education and Sport, University of Madeira, Funchal, Portugal
Interactive Technologies Institute, Laboratory of Robotics and Engineering Systems, Funchal, Portugal
Interdisciplinary Centre for the Study of Human Performance, Faculty of Human Kinetics, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
Institute of Environmental Health, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
European University, Lisbon, Portugal
Submission date: 2021-10-29
Acceptance date: 2022-03-02
Publication date: 2022-04-06
Hum Mov. 2023;24(1):93-99
Physical activity is associated with lower odds of depression symptoms among older adults. However, little is known about the effect of changing physical activity behaviour on depressive symptoms. The present study aimed to analyse the effects of changing physical activity trajectory on depressive symptoms in older people.

Data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe wave 5 and wave 6 were analysed. The EURO-D 12-item scale measured depressive symptoms, and physical activity (of moderate and vigorous intensity) was self-reported. Multivariate binary logistic regressions were conducted to assess the association between physical activity and depression symptoms.

The study involved 6431 participants (mean age: 72.7 years). Moderate and vigorous physical activity was significantly associated with lower odds of depression symptoms in men and women. Moderate physical activity, performed once a week (men: OR = 0.31, 95% CI: 0.21–0.45; women: OR = 0.67, 95% CI: 0.54–0.84) and more than once a week (men: OR = 0.41, 95% CI: 0.32–0.52; women: OR = 0.56, 95% CI: 0.47–0.66), decreased the odds of having depression compared with remaining less active. Similar results were seen for vigorous physical activity in both men and women.

Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, undertaken at least once a week, is a safe and feasible behaviour to deal with depressive symptoms among older adults.

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