Published Papers - Abstract 200

Brown WJ, Ford JH, Burton NW, Marshall AL & Dobson AJ. Prospective study of physical activity and depressive symptoms in mid-age women. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2005; 29(4): 265-272

Background: Although many studies support an inverse association between physical activity (PA) and depressive symptoms, prospective relationships between these variables have been confounded by pre-existing psychological and physical health problems. Methods: This study examined the dose-response relationships between self-reported PA and depressive symptoms using cross-sectional and prospective data from a population-based cohort of mid-age women who participated in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (ALSWH) between 1996 and 2001. Participants completed three mailed surveys (S1: 1996, S2: 1998, S3: 2001) which included questions about time spent in walking, moderate- and vigorous-intensity PA, and measures of psychological health (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale, CESD-10; Mental health (MH) sub-scale of the Short Form 36 survey). Relationships between previous (S1, S2), current (S3) and habitual (S1, S2, S3) PA and 'depressive symptoms' were examined, adjusting for sociodemographic and health-related variables. (N=9207). Results: Mean CESD-10 scores decreased, and MH scores increased with increasing levels of previous, current and habitual activity. Odds ratios for CESD-10 scores =10 or MH scores =52 at S3 were 30-40% lower among women who reported the equivalent of 60 minutes or more of moderate-intensity PA per week, compared with those who reported less PA than this. Women who were in the lowest PA category at S1, but who subsequently reported at least 240 MET.mins per week had lower odds of CESD-10 scores =10 or MH scores =52 at S3 than those who remained in the very low PA category. Conclusions: These data suggest that there is a clear relationship between increasing PA and decreasing depressive symptoms in mid-age women, independent of pre-existing physical and psychological health.