Associations between aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercise with depressive symptom severity among 17,839 U.S. adults

Prev Med. 2019 Apr;121:121-127. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.02.022. Epub 2019 Feb 17.


For the prevention and management of chronic diseases, global physical activity guidelines state that an adult should engage in regular moderate-to-vigorous aerobic physical activity (MVPA; e.g. walking, cycling, running) and muscle-strengthening exercise (MSE; e.g. strength/resistance training). However, the associations between combined MVPA-MSE with chronic health conditions are rarely examined in large population studies. In particular, little is known associations between combined MVPA-MSE with depressive disorders, one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. The aim of this study is to describe the associations between MVPA and MSE with depressive symptom severity among a large sample of U.S. adults. Data were drawn from the U.S. 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. During phone interviews, MVPA, MSE and depressive symptom severity were assessed by validated questionnaires. Poisson regression with a robust error or variance were used to assess prevalence ratios (PR) of depressive symptom severity (mild, moderate, moderately severe/severe) across categories of physical activity guideline adherence (met neither [reference]; MSE only; MVPA only; met both), adjusting for a set of potential cofounders. Data were available on 17,839 adults (18-85 years). When compared with those meeting neither guideline, for mild, moderate and moderately severe/severe depressive symptoms, the PRs were lowest among meeting both guidelines (range: 0.26-0.54), followed by MVPA only (range: 0.36-0.62) and MSE only (range: 0.49-0.84). Among a large sample of U.S. adults, compared to other guideline adherence categories, meeting both MVPA-MSE guidelines was associated with a lowest likelihood of reporting depressive symptoms.

Keywords: Concurrent training; Depression; Mental health strength training; Physical activity; Resistance exercise.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / prevention & control
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult