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Being a couch potato contributes to depression

depressed couch potato

After a long term study of women in the US was concluded, researchers found that low levels of exercise and watching loads of TV were linked to depression. Women with a lot of exercise and a little TV were just the opposite: low risk. The findings can be found in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Michel Lucas and colleagues from Harvard School of Public Health used data from the well-known Nurses’ Health Study which took place from 1992 to 2000. The researchers pulled files from over 49,000 women who had no depressive symptoms in 1996 and looked at their questionnaire data for the years following.

The data they reviewed contained information on all types of physical activity which they crunched to find an average number of minutes of physical activity per day. They did the same with TV viewing which was also part of the multi-year questionnaire. During follow up questionnaires in the ensuing years the researchers were able to assess who developed clinical depression and if they had certain exercise and TV viewing habits.

During subsequent follow up visits, 6,505 women were diagnosed with depression. After ruling out other factors like weight, smoking and illness, higher levels of physical activity were linked to lower risk of depression. When compared to those who exercised less than 10 minutes per day, women who exercised 90 minutes a day had a 20% lower risk of depression. Risk of depression also went up with television watching. There was a 13% higher risk of being depressed when the women watched 21 hours of TV or more per week. TV and lack of exercise independently increased risk of depression.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, American Journal of Epidemiology

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