Objective: To examine the longitudinal association between changes in health behaviors and depression and determine the mediating effect of health characteristics on this association.
Method: Based on the first and second waves of the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE)-Israel, depressive symptoms of 1,524 Israelis aged 50 or older were analyzed using logistic regression.
Results: Changes in physical activity and body weight are associated with depressive symptoms after adjusting for confounders. However, after adding measures of health, the respective correlations of weight gain and commenced physical activity with depression disappear, and the correlation between continued activity and depression is reduced.
Discussion: Changes in health behaviors are related to mental health in late life, but their effect is mediated by physical and functional health. Future interventions should nevertheless target older individuals who stop physical activity and those who remain inactive to lessen the risk of depression.
Keywords: Arabs; SHARE; life style; mental health; physical activity.