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Fitness May Help Ward Off Depression in Girls
Date:8/7/2014

rding to Ruggero. He suspects a study using a larger number of boys might show a stronger link, though it would likely still be modest.

The findings were presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C. Findings presented at meetings are generally considered preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

For the study, the researchers gauged the fitness of more than 400 North Texas sixth-graders based on how many shuttle runs they could complete within a specified amount of time and their own assessment of their physical strength and endurance.

The strongest predictor of depression symptoms in girls was a history of depression, but even after accounting for past depression and BMI, higher fitness levels in sixth grade were linked to a lower likelihood of depression in seventh grade.

Past research has found conflicting results about potentially protective effects of fitness on depression, but those inconsistencies may stem from using physical activity instead of "cardiorespiratory fitness" as a measure. The amount of physical activity a person gets from one week to the next can vary greatly, but overall fitness results from sustained physical activity over time.

Still, this study could not show that better fitness levels directly prevented depression, cautioned Dr. Andrew Adesman, the chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York.

"Parents and clinicians have to remember that just because there's an association and one preceded the other doesn't mean we can assume there is a causal relationship," Adesman said. "We cannot be sure that improvements in fitness will unequivocally lead to improved mental health based on this study." Yet, he said, it's certainly likely that improved fitness may lead to an improved overall sense of well-being and mood.

The causes of depression are complex, with risk factors
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