Midlife Fitness Linked to Lower Risk of Depression, CVD Death

Reduction also seen in CVD mortality with antecedent depression in association with high fitness level

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THURSDAY, June 28, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Midlife fitness is associated with reduced risk of depression in later life and with reductions in the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality and CVD mortality after later-life depression, according to a study published online June 27 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Benjamin L. Willis, M.D., M.P.H., from The Cooper Institute in Dallas, and colleagues conducted a retrospective cohort study to examine whether fitness measured in midlife has an inverse association with later-life CVD mortality with antecedent depression. Data were included for 17,989 generally healthy men and women.

The researchers identified 2,701 depression diagnoses, 610 deaths due to CVD without prior depression, and 231 deaths due to CVD after depression after 117,218 person-years of Medicare follow-up. Compared with a low level of fitness, a high level of fitness in midlife was associated with a significantly reduced risk of depression (hazard ratio, 0.84). Compared with a low level of fitness, a high level of fitness was also associated with a significantly reduced risk of death due to CVD without depression (hazard ratio, 0.39). After a diagnosis of depression, the risk of death was significantly lower in association with a high versus a low fitness level (hazard ratio, 0.44).

"These findings suggest the importance of midlife fitness in primary prevention of depression and subsequent CVD mortality in older age and should encourage physicians to consider fitness and physical activity in promoting healthy aging," the authors write.

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