Australian researchers recently published an article in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, showing a connection between physical activity levels and depression.
Researchers studied 109 participants who had been treated for depression, anxiety, or both and had been referred to a lifestyle intervention program. Each participant completed the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale and the Active Australia Survey, and researchers compared their fitness scores with those of the general population.
What researchers found was that 80% of the participants were overweight or obese, and, despite more participants meeting the recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate physical activity compared to the general population (51% and 38%, respectively), generally, participants had lower average fitness levels and participated in low levels of vigorous physical activity.
As a result, the researchers concluded that levels of physical activity (but not fitness) were inversely correlated with DASS scores. In other words, as physical activity goes up, depression and anxiety symptoms go down.
This is further evidence of the importance of approaching mental health treatment holistically.