According to a recent study published in the February 11, 2020 issue of Lancet Psychiatry, declining physical activity starting at age 12 is associated with depressive symptoms at age 18, new research shows.
In the first study to objectively measure physical activity in teens, investigators found that every additional 60 minutes of sedentary behavior per day at age 12, 14, and 16 was linked to an increase in depression scores of 11.1%, 8%, and 10.7%, respectively at age 18.
Conversely, every additional hour of light activity per day at age 12, 14, and 16 was tied to a decrease in depression scores of 9.6%, 7.8%, and 11.1%, respectively, when measured at age 18.
Recommendation: Children and adolescents need daily physical activity throughout the day. The good news from this study is the implication that light activity — which can include movements as simple as standing, stretching, or casual walking — might be an effective strategy for decreasing the burden of adolescent depression. Long periods of inactivity such as playing video games, watching movies, and even studying can contribute to the development of depression symptoms.
The Achieve Center blog is written by the professionals who are focused on children's mental health.