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Exercise May Reduce Risk of Depression Following a Heart Attack

Depression is three times more common in people who have had a heart attack than those who have not. A recent study suggests that regular exercise before a heart attack lowers the likelihood of depression after a heart attack.

For this study, researchers examined data from the Nord-Trøndelag HUNT studies, which included 120,000 people on whom data was collected from 1984-86, 1995-97, and 2006-08. Specifically, they looked at participants who were middle-aged and older participants and had taken part in all three study periods. They had also experienced their first heart attack after participating in the second study period and before the third study period. A total of 189 individuals qualified.

The researchers used the Norwegian physical activity guidelines to divide the participants into 4 groups: persistently inactive, inactive, active, and persistently active. People who exercised a minimum of 150 minutes per week with moderate intensity or 75 minutes with high intensity were considered persistently active.

After examining the data, the researchers found that 11% of the participants were depressed by the third study period. However, the percentages varied greatly depending on the level of physical activity. 17% of those who had never exercised were depressed post-heart attack, 12.5% of those who had exercised during the first study period but stopped during the second were depressed, and 9.1% of those who did not exercise at first but did during the second period were depressed. Only 7.5% of those who exercised consistently were depressed post-heart attack.

Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on August 21, 2015, in The American Journal of Medicine.

Previous clinical studies suggest that even moderate exercise can reduce your risk of dying prematurely, help with blood sugar control, reduce body weight, improve heart health and improve respiratory health.

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