The association between past and current physical activity and depressive symptoms in young adults: a 10-year prospective study

Ann Epidemiol. 2013 Jan;23(1):25-30. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2012.10.006. Epub 2012 Nov 22.


Purpose: The objectives of this study were to assess (1) the longitudinal associations of past moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and involvement in team sports during secondary school with depressive symptoms in early adulthood, and (2) the cross-sectional associations of current MVPA and involvement in team sports with depressive symptoms during young adulthood.

Methods: Data were drawn from the Nicotine Dependence in Teens study, which is an ongoing prospective cohort study of 1293 adolescents aged 12-13 years at baseline (52% female). Data analyses involved latent growth curve modeling and multiple hierarchical linear regression models.

Results: Current MVPA (β = -0.12), but not past MVPA, participation was significantly negatively related to depressive symptoms during young adulthood (P < .05). Both current and past involvement in team sports were significantly negatively related to depressive symptoms (β ≥ -0.09; P < .05); however, these associations were no longer significant (P = .08) when covariates were controlled for.

Conclusions: Findings provide insight about the unique associations between the timing and type of physical activity and depressive symptoms, suggesting that physical activity within team sport contexts should be encouraged so that young adults may experience less depressive symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / prevention & control
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Schools
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sports*
  • Time Factors