The authors of this report examined the prospective relationship between physical activity and incident depression and explored potential moderators. Prospective cohort studies evaluating incident depression were searched from database inception through Oct. 18, 2017, on PubMed, PsycINFO, Embase, and SPORTDiscus. Demographic and clinical data, data on physical activity and depression assessments, and odds ratios, relative risks, and hazard ratios with 95% confidence intervals were extracted. Random-effects meta-analyses were conducted, and the potential sources of heterogeneity were explored. Methodological quality was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale.
A total of 49 unique prospective studies were followed up for 1,837,794 person-years. Compared with people with low levels of physical activity, those with high levels had lower odds of developing depression. Furthermore, physical activity had a protective effect against the emergence of depression in youths, and in elderly persons. Protective effects against depression were found across geographical regions, with adjusted odds ratios ranging from 0.65 to 0.84 in Asia, Europe, North America, and Oceania. No moderators were identified. The report concluded that physical activity can confer protection against the emergence of depression regardless of age and geographical region.
Schuch FB, Vancampfort D, Firth J, Rosenbaum S, Ward PB, Silva ES, Hallgren M, Ponce De Leon A, Dunn AL, Deslandes AC, Fleck MP, Carvalho AF, Stubbs B: Physical Activity and Incident Depression: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies. Am J Psychiatry [Epub ahead of print, April 25, 2018; doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2018.17111194.].