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Physical Activity May Cut Depressive Symptoms in Children, Teens

Larger benefit seen among those aged 13 years or older or with a mental illness, depression diagnosis

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Jan. 5, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Physical activity interventions may reduce depressive symptoms in children and adolescents, according to a review published online Jan. 3 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Francesco Recchia, from the University of Hong Kong, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to determine the association of physical activity interventions with depressive symptoms in children and adolescents.

Based on 21 studies (2,441 participants), the researchers found that physical activity interventions were associated with a reduction in depressive symptoms versus the control condition. However, four studies with follow-up outcomes showed no differences between the physical activity and control groups. There was moderate study heterogeneity. The main treatment effect was not moderated when accounting for total physical activity volume, study design, participant health status, and allocation and/or assessment concealment. However, intervention (i.e., <12 weeks in duration, three times per week, unsupervised) and participant characteristics (i.e., aged 13 years or older, with a mental illness and/or depression diagnosis) may influence the overall treatment effect.

“Results were corroborated by stringent sensitivity and moderator analyses that revealed greater reductions in depressive symptoms in participants aged 13 years or older and in those with a mental illness and/or depression diagnosis,” the authors write.

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