Cross-sectional associations of leisure and transport related physical activity with depression and anxiety

J Psychiatr Res. 2021 Aug:140:228-234. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.05.053. Epub 2021 Jun 4.


Background: Previous evidence supports the notion that the physical activity (PA) domain (leisure-time or transport), and the amount of time spent in PA, influence the association of PA with depressive and anxiety symptoms. However, no study evaluated the associations of different volumes of leisure-time PA (LTPA) and transport PA (TPA) with prevalent depression, anxiety, and co-occurring depression and anxiety (D&A) disorders.

Aim: To investigate the associations between different volumes of LTPA and TPA with prevalent depression, anxiety, and D&A.

Methods: Cross-sectional study using baseline data of the ELSA-Brasil cohort. The International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) long-form was used to assess PA levels in each domain. The Clinical Interview Scheduled Revised (CIS-R) was used to diagnose prevalent depressive, anxiety, and D&A disorders. Logistic regressions, adjusting for confounding factors, were employed. Results are expressed as adjusted odds ratios (aOR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).

Results: A total of 14,381 adults (54.5% female, 67.5% aged 45-64 years) were assessed. Time spent in LTPA was associated with a lower prevalence of depression in low, and high volumes (60-89min/weekaOR = 0.47, 95%CI = 0.29-0.76, p = 0.002, >300min/weekaOR = 0.43, 95%CI = 0.31-0.59, p < 0.001). High volumes of LTPA were associated with a lower prevalence D&A (270-299min/weekaOR = 0.55, 95%CI 0.38-0.79, p = 0.001; >300 minutesaOR = 0.63, 95%CI 0.54-0.74, p < 0.001). Low (60-89min/weekaOR = 0.56,95%CI = 0.40-0.79, p = 0.001) volumes of TPA were associated with lower prevalence of depression.

Limitations: Cross-sectional design and self-reported PA. Lack of assessment of sedentary behaviour or occupational PA.

Conclusions: The present study highlights the importance of contextual factors in the association between PA and mental health, particularly at higher levels.

Keywords: Anxiety; Depression; Physical activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Brazil
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression* / epidemiology
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Male