Light activity reduces depression 10 percent in people ages 12 to 18

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An additional 60 minutes of light activity at age 12 can reduce depressive symptoms at age 18 by 10 percent, according to University College London researchers.

“Our findings show that young people who are inactive for large proportions of the day throughout adolescence face a greater risk of depression by age 18,” Aaron Kandola, lead author of the study, said. “We found that it’s not just more intense forms of activity that are good for our mental health, but any degree of physical activity that can reduce the time we spend sitting down is likely to be beneficial.”

Researchers examined data from 4,257 adolescents participating from birth in longitudinal research as part of a University of Bristol’s Children of the 90s study.

The adolescents were asked at ages 12, 14, and 16 to wear accelerometers to track their movement for at least 10 hours over at least three days. The devices measured whether the wearer was sedentary or engaged in light or moderate-to-physical activity.

The adolescents also were asked to participate in a clinical questionnaire on depressive symptoms.

Sedentary behavior increased between the ages of 12 and 16. Every additional 60 minutes of sedentary behavior was associated with an increase in depression score.

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