Depression

Updated 08 February 2017

Investigators found that exercise may lower depression risk in kids

Investigators found that kids who got regular moderate-to-vigorous exercise were less likely to develop depression.

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For generations, parents have told kids to go outside and play. Now, a new study suggests an added benefit to that advice – physical activity may lower children's risk of depression.

Getting sweaty

The researchers assessed about 700 children at ages 6, 8 and 10. Kids who got regular moderate-to-vigorous exercise were less likely to develop depression over those four years, the investigators found.

Previous studies have found that physically active teens and adults seem to have a lower risk of depression. This new study is the first time this has been suggested in children, according to researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Read: Every bit of physical activity counts

"Being active, getting sweaty and roughhousing offer more than just physical health benefits. They also protect against depression," study first author Tonje Zahl, a Ph.D. candidate, said in a university news release.

The findings are important, said study co-author Silje Steinsbekk, "because it may suggest that physical activity can be used to prevent and treat depression already in childhood". Steinsbekk is an associate professor in the department of psychology.

"We also studied whether children who have symptoms of depression are less physically active over time, but didn't find that to be the case," she added.

Further research is needed to confirm the study results, Steinsbekk said. The study didn't prove that regular exercise caused depression risk to drop.

The study is published in the February issue of the journal Paediatrics.

Read more:

Screen time not linked to kids' physical activity

Benefits of exercise last throughout life

Exercise boosts kids' academic ability

 

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Depression expert

Michael Simpson has been a senior psychiatric academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries, having worked at London University in the UK; McMaster University in Canada; Temple University in Philadelphia, USA.; and the University of Natal in South Africa.

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