The association between physical activity and these outcomes was strongest when only moderate intensity physical activity was considered. However, the number of steps a person walked each day, no matter the pace, also was related.
"Another goal of this study was to determine physical activity thresholds that best differentiated mental health status," said Dr. King. "We were surprised that the thresholds were really low." Just one hour of moderate-intensity physical activity a weekor eight minutes a daywas associated with 92 percent lower odds of treatment for depression or anxiety among adults with severe obesity. Similarly, just 4,750 steps a dayless than half the 10,000 steps recommended for a healthy adultreduced odds of depression or anxiety treatment by 81 percent.
"It could be that, in this population, important mental health benefits can be gained by simply not being sedentary," said Dr. King.
Because this was an observational, cross-sectional studymeaning patients' regular physical activity behavior and depressive symptoms were measured at the same timeit could not prove that a patient's physical activity influenced mental health status.
"Results of the study are provocative, but we would need further research to verify that physical activity was responsible for lower levels of depressive symptoms in this patient population," said study co-author Melissa A. Kalarchian, Ph.D., associate professor at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC. "Nonetheless, physical activity is a key component of behavioral weight management, and it is encouraging to consider that it m
|Contact: Cyndy McGrath|
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences