Study suggests certain people with depression may benefit from exercise

Posted on April 28, 2016

A UF study has found that specific genetic markers that put people at risk for depression also predict who might benefit from exercise, according to a study published recently in The Journal of Frailty & Aging. The researchers found that men who were carriers of two specific genes had the most significant response to exercise. The results suggest physical activity as part of a treatment plan — exercise as moderate as walking — could help the carriers of these genes.

The results came from a small pilot study, so more research needs to be done before this work can be translated into clinical practice. But in the future, it’s possible that blood or saliva could be tested to determine if a person could benefit from physical activity to lower depressive symptoms.

The study used data gathered in the Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders, or LIFE, pilot study. During the LIFE pilot study, 396 sedentary older adults were separated into two groups: those who received health education classes and those who were given moderate physical activity classes for 12 months.

A subsequent paper published from the LIFE pilot study found that exercise did not significantly affect depression symptoms across the whole group, but that changed when the research team tunneled down into the data.

“When we looked at subgroups, we ended up finding significant response to exercise in men who were carriers of a specific gene.” Dotson said.

To assess the participants’ response to exercise, they took a test called the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, a screening test for depression and depressive disorders, at the beginning of the LIFE study’s intervention. They took the test again after the interventions ended, at 12 months. The scale assesses four factors, including symptoms of sadness and fearfulness, symptoms such as loss of appetite and concentration difficulties, and a diminished capacity to experience pleasure or perceived difficulties in social relationships.


Category(s):Depression

Source material from University of Florida Health Science Center


Mental Health News