Middle-aged men and women who exercise regularly and are physically fit have a lower risk of depression and cardiovascular death, a new study suggests.
Researchers examined data from a prospective study and examined 17,989 Medicare-eligible men and women who were around the age of 50.
After assessing the association of cardiorespiratory fitness with the subsequent risk of depression diagnosis and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality, analysts found that middle-aged people who are more physically fit had a lower risk of depression and CVD mortality after the age of 65. The results, published in JAMA Psychiatry, indicated that higher levels of physical fitness in midlife were associated with a 16% lower risk of depression compared to those who exercised less.
A high fitness level was also associated with a 61% lower risk of death due to CVD without depression. And even after a diagnosis of depression, higher levels of fitness were associated with a 56% lower risk of CVD mortality.
The findings suggest that “fitness is an important part of a primary preventive strategy for cardiovascular disease and depression across the lifespan.” The researchers suggest doctors consider exercise “as part of overall preventive care to promote healthy aging.”