Introduction: To analyze the association between physical activity (PA) and occurrence of depressive symptoms in The Nord-Trøndelag Health Survey (HUNT 1 1984-1986, HUNT 2 1995-1997).
Methods: In this prospective follow-up study, we studied men and women who were 21-40 years old in HUNT 1, and participated in HUNT 2. The sample consisted of 3,353 women and 3,308 men. We used logistic regression and calculated odds ratios (OR) to assess the association between physical activity and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale depression subscale [HADS-D]). Confounding was addressed by excluding those with relevant health conditions and adjustment.
Results: Among women 272 (8.1%) and among men 293 (8.9%) scored higher than 8 on the HADS-D scale. We found a higher mean on HADS-D in men and women who were inactive. Men participating in low PA had significantly lower scores on depression (OR=0.63, confidence interval [CI]=0.43-0.93, p=.02) than inactive men. Women participating in medium PA had significantly lower scores on depression (OR=0.69, CI=0.49-0.97, p=.03) than inactive women.
Conclusions: Young men and women who exercised were less likely to have a high depression score, compared with inactive people. Our prospective, observational study included a large population and indicated some significant associations between physical activity and depression.