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Being in Good Shape Tied to Fewer Mental Health Rx

Reduction in need for anxiolytic drugs, antidepressants strongest for men and young and middle-aged adults

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 11, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Increased cardiorespiratory fitness may protect against the need for anxiolytic or antidepressant medication, according to a study published in the Oct. 15 issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Audun Havnen, Ph.D., from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, and colleagues investigated the association between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and prescriptions for antidepressants or anxiolytics in the general adult population. The analysis included 32,603 participants in the third wave of the Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT3; 2006 to 2008). Antidepressant and anxiolytic purchase information from three months after participation in HUNT3 to Jan. 1, 2018, was obtained from the Norwegian Prescription Database.

The researchers found that each metabolic equivalent of task (MET) increase in CRF was associated with a lower risk for purchasing antidepressant or anxiolytic medication during follow-up (hazard ratio [HR], 0.96). Participants in intermediate (HR, 0.93) and high (HR, 0.92) CRF tertiles had a reduced risk for medication purchase compared with the low CRF tertile. Effects were more pronounced for men than for women (intermediate tertile HR, 0.87; high tertile HR, 0.87). There was an association noted between a reduced risk for medication use for younger adults (20 to under 30 years old: intermediate tertile HR, 0.74; high tertile HR, 0.78) and middle-aged adults (30 to under 65 years old; intermediate tertile HR, 0.90; high tertile HR, 0.90), but not in older adults (65 years and older).

“The results indicate that you can achieve a protective effect by improving your physical shape from poor to moderate, so any activity is beneficial,” Havnen said in a statement.

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