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Exercise May Stave Off Depression in Severely Obese
Date:2/18/2013

MONDAY, Feb. 18 (HealthDay News) -- In a study of severely obese patients scheduled to undergo weight-loss surgery, those who were physically active were less likely to suffer from depression than similar patients who were sedentary.

Physical activity also reduced the likelihood that these patients would need antidepressants or counseling for depression or anxiety, the observational study found.

It doesn't take much exercise, the study revealed. Just eight minutes of moderate physical activity each day can reduce the odds of severely obese adults needing treatment for depression or anxiety by 92 percent.

One "goal of this study was to determine physical activity thresholds that best differentiated mental health status. We were surprised that the thresholds were really low," study author Wendy King, an epidemiologist at Pitt Public Health, said in a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center news release.

The three-year study examined how much physical activity 850 adults got in the week before they had weight-loss surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, at one of 10 different hospitals.

Participants wore an electronic device on their ankle to track the amount of activity they got. They also completed a questionnaire designed to assess their mental health. In the survey, patients were asked to report any symptoms of depression as well as any treatment they received for mental or emotional problems, including anxiety and depression.

About one-third of the participants had symptoms of depression. The researchers also found two in five patients had taken medication or received counseling for either depression or anxiety.

Although eight minutes of moderate physical activity daily had the most dramatic effect, the researchers found that even just 4,750 steps a day (less than half the 10,000 steps recommended for a healthy adult) reduced the odds of depression or anxiety treatment for adults with sev
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