Combined aerobic physical activity and resistance training may reduce the risk of depression with or without co-existing symptoms of anxiety

In September 2019 researchers from Australia published the results of their study to assess the association between meeting current recommendations for aerobic physical activity and/or resistance training, and symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. A total of 5,180 women, average age 50 years, were involved in the study. Each individual was assessed for symptoms of anxiety and/or depression and placed into one of four groups namely: ‘depression only’, ‘anxiety only’, ‘both depression and anxiety’ and ‘neither depression nor anxiety’. Information on the amount of physical activity and resistance training undertaken was collected via questionnaire, following which the individual was placed into one of the following groups which was according to current guidelines namely: ‘physical activity only’ (at least 150 min/week), ‘resistance training only’ (at least 2 days/week), ‘both physical activity and resistance training’ (at least 150 min of aerobic physical activity/week plus at least 2 days of resistance training/week), and ‘neither’ (under 150 min aerobic physical activity/week plus less than 2 days of resistance training/week). A comparison between the symptoms and level of activity was then undertaken. Results showed that the probability of the individual suffering symptoms of depression was higher in the ‘neither’ group than in the ‘physical activity only’ and ‘both physical activity and resistance training’ groups. No association between either physical activity or resistance training and anxiety symptoms was seen or between ‘resistance training only’ and symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. The researchers therefore concluded that prevention and treatment strategies including both aerobic physical activity and resistance training may provide additional benefits for individuals with depression who may or may not have co-existing anxiety.

Oftedal S et al. . Resistance training in addition to aerobic activity is associated with lower likelihood of depression and comorbid depression and anxiety symptoms: A cross sectional analysis of Australian women. Prev Med. 2019 Sep;126:105773

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