Associations of self-reported physical activity and depression in 10,000 Irish adults across harmonised datasets: a DEDIPAC-study

BMC Public Health. 2018 Jul 1;18(1):779. doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-5702-4.


Background: Depression is a prevalent, debilitating, and often recurrent mood disorder for which successful first-line treatments remains limited. The purpose of this study was to investigate the cross-sectional associations between self-reported physical activity (PA) and depressive symptoms and status among Irish adults, using two existing datasets, The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) and The Mitchelstown Cohort Study.

Methods: The two selected databases were pooled (n = 10,122), and relevant variables were harmonized. PA was measured using the short form International Physical Activity Questionnaire. Depressive symptoms were measured by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) questionnaire. Participants were classified as meeting World Health Organization moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) guidelines or not, and divided into tertiles based on weekly minutes of MVPA. A CES-D score of ≥16 indicated elevated depressive symptoms. Data collection were conducted in 2010-2011.

Results: Significantly higher depressive symptoms were reported by females (7.11 ± 7.87) than males (5.74 ± 6.86; p < 0.001). Following adjustment for age, sex, BMI, and dataset, meeting the PA guidelines was associated with 44.7% (95%CI: 35.0 to 52.9; p < 0.001) lower odds of elevated depressive symptoms. Compared to the low PA tertile, the middle and high PA tertiles were associated with 25.2% (95%CI: 8.7 to 38.6; p < 0.01) and 50.8% (95%CI: 40.7 to 59.2; p < 0.001) lower odds of elevated depressive symptoms, respectively.

Conclusion: Meeting the PA guidelines is associated with lower odds of elevated depressive symptoms, and increased volumes of MVPA are associated with lower odds of elevated depressive symptoms.

Keywords: Cross-sectional; Elderly; Ireland; Mental health; Physical activity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Datasets as Topic
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Report