Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Psychiatry, 02 April 2013 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00022

Recreational physical activity ameliorates some of the negative impact of major depression on health-related quality of life

Scott B. Patten1,2,3*, Jeanne V. A. Williams1, Dina H. Lavorato1 and Andrew G. M. Bulloch1,2,3
  • 1Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada
  • 3Mathison Center for Research and Education in Mental Health, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada

Background: Major depressive episodes have a negative effect on health-related quality of life (HRQoL). The objective of this study was to determine whether recreational physical activity can ameliorate some of this negative impact.

Methods: The data source for the study was the Canadian National Population Health Survey (NPHS). The NPHS is a longitudinal study that has collected data from a representative cohort of 15,254 community residents. Sixteen years of follow-up data are available. The NPHS included: an instrument to assess MDE (the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form for Major Depression), an inventory of recreational activities (each associated with hours of participation and estimated metabolic expenditures), and a HRQoL instrument (the Health Utility Index, Mark 3, or HUI3). Proportional hazard and linear regression models were used in this study to determine whether MDE-related declines in HRQoL were lessened by participation in an active recreational lifestyle.

Results: Consistent with expectation, major depression was associated with a significant decline in HRQoL over time. While no statistical interactions were observed, the risk of diminished HRQoL in association with MDE was reduced by physical activity. In a proportional hazards model, the hazard ratio for transition to poor HRQoL was 0.7 (95% CI: 0.6–0.8, p < 0.0001). In linear regression models, physical activity was significantly associated with more positive HRQoL (β = 0.019, 95% CI 0.004 to −0.034, p = 0.02).

Conclusion: Recreational physical activity appears to ameliorate some of the decline in HRQoL seen in association with MDE. Physical activity may be an effective tertiary preventive strategy for this condition.

Keywords: depressive disorders, quality of life, physical activity, recreation, epidemiologic studies, longitudinal studies

Citation: Patten SB, Williams JVA, Lavorato DH and Bulloch AGM (2013) Recreational physical activity ameliorates some of the negative impact of major depression on health-related quality of life. Front. Psychiatry 4:22. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2013.00022

Received: 30 December 2012; Paper pending published: 04 February 2013;
Accepted: 18 March 2013; Published online: 02 April 2013.

Edited by:

Eduardo Lusa Cadore, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Reviewed by:

Mauro Giovanni Carta, University of Cagliari, Italy
Alexandra Latini, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil

Copyright: © 2013 Patten, Williams, Lavorato and Bulloch. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Scott B. Patten, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, 3rd Floor TRW Building, 3280 Hospital Drive N.W., Calgary, AB T2N4Z6, Canada. e-mail: patten@ucalgary.ca