Protective Effect of Regular Physical Activity on Depression After Myocardial Infarction: The HUNT Study

Am J Med. 2016 Jan;129(1):82-88.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2015.08.012. Epub 2015 Aug 21.


Purpose: To study if physical activity within the recommended level over time was associated with risk of developing depression after the first myocardial infarction in older adults.

Methods: Men (n = 143) and women (n = 46) who had reached the age of 60 years in 2006-2008 who participated in the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT1, 1984-1986; HUNT2, 1995-1997; HUNT3, 2006-2008) without any mental illness or cardiovascular disease at baseline in HUNT2 and who experienced their first myocardial infarction before HUNT3 were included. Based on the patterns of physical activity from HUNT1 to HUNT2, the sample was divided into 4 groups: persistently inactive, from active to inactive, from inactive to active, and persistently active. The primary outcome, post-myocardial infarction depression symptoms, was measured with the Hospital, Anxiety and Depression Scale in HUNT3.

Results: In HUNT3, 11% of participants had depression. After multivariable adjustment, those who were persistently active had significantly lower odds of being depressed (odds ratio 0.28; 95% confidence interval, 0.08-0.98) compared with those who were persistently inactive. Additionally, a significant test for trend (P = .033) of lowering odds of depression was observed across all 4 categories of physical activity patterns at baseline.

Conclusions: In this small sample of initially healthy adults, we observed a long-term protective effect of regular physical activity on the development of depression following myocardial infarction.

Keywords: Depression; Myocardial infarction; Physical activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Depression / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Myocardial Infarction / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors