Association of Sedentary Behavior and Physical Activity with Depression in Sport University Students

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Sep 19;18(18):9881. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18189881.


Background: Sports university students are usually expected to lead an active life and have a lower risk of depression. Therefore, there are few studies on depression and its risk factors among this population. This study aimed to investigate depression and its association with sedentary behavior and physical activity in sports university students.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted among undergraduates majoring in physical education in a sports university in Beijing in March 2021. Students were asked about sociodemographic information, domain-specific sedentary behavior, physical activity, and depression (using a nine-item Patient Health Questionnaire). Chi-squared test and logistic regression were carried out to analyze the data.

Results: Among a total of 584 participants, the detection rate of depression was 49.1%. The median of total sedentary time was 7.29 h per day. After adjusting for covariates, recreational screen time (OR = 1.540, p = 0.035), sedentary time spent completing schoolwork (OR = 0.658, p = 0.038), and participation in vigorous physical activity everyday (OR = 0.415, p = 0.001) and a few times per week (OR = 0.423, p < 0.001) were significantly associated with depression.

Conclusions: Sports university students are not immune to depression and inactive lifestyles. Excessive recreational screen time may have an adverse effect on depression, which is somewhat independent of physical activity.

Keywords: depression; mental health; physical activity; sedentary behavior; sports university students.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Students
  • Universities*