ORIGINAL ARTICLE: EPIDEMIOLOGY,
CLINICAL PRACTICE AND HEALTH
Relationship between physical activity levels and depressive
symptoms in community-dwelling older Japanese adults
and Hiroyuki Shimada
Department of Preventive Gerontology, Center for Gerontology and Social Science, National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, Obu
Graduate School of Human Development and Environment, Kobe University, Kobe, Japan
Aim: The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between physical activity (PA) and depressive
symptoms in community-dwelling older Japanese adults.
Methods: A cross-sectional study design was used to obtain data from 3191 community-dwelling older Japanese
adults aged 70–95 years. Depressive symptoms were assessed using self-reported scores on the Geriatric Depression
Scale-15. PA was objectively measured using an accelerometer worn for a maximum of 40 days, and average daily
durations of light-intensity PA (LPA), moderate-to-vigorous intensity PA (MVPA) and step count were calculated.
PA was compared between participants with and without depressive symptoms by carrying out analysis of covariance
and multivariable logistic regression analysis adjusted for all covariates by using propensity scores.
Results: Depressive symptoms were present in 598 participants (19.6%). A comparison of propensity-score
adjusted PA showed that step count (5059.6 Æ 53.7 vs 5003.0 Æ 112.1 count/day; P = 0.652) and moderate-to-
vigorous intensity PA duration (23.0 Æ 0.4 vs 23.8 Æ 0.7 min/day; P = 0.358) were not signiﬁcantly different between
participants with and without depressive symptoms, respectively. However, participants without depressive symp-
toms had a signiﬁcantly higher LPA duration than those with depressive symptoms (39.4 Æ 0.3 vs 37.3 Æ 0.7 min/
day, respectively; P < 0.01).
Conclusions: The present results suggest that individuals with lower LPA have a higher risk of depressive symptoms.
These ﬁndings imply that PA recommendations, especially for older adults, should emphasize LPA, which appears to
be especially effective at preventing depressive symptoms. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2018; 18: 421–427.
Keywords: depression, older adults, physical activity.
Depression is commonly associated with morbidity and
mortality, through suicide, as well as cognitive behavior
dysfunction, sleep disorders, low levels of life satisfac-
tion and physical activity (PA).
Depression has been
identiﬁed as a signiﬁcant, but preventable, cause and
consequence of aging-related disability.
depression, which commonly occurs as a comorbidity,
as estimated, would become the second highest con-
tributor to the global disease burden by 2030, and its
prevalence worldwide is projected to double from its
present level by 2050.
PA is a protective factor against depressive symp-
toms. The beneﬁts of PA in the maintenance of mental
health have been consistently shown using objective
health measures, with these beneﬁts equally available
to older adults.
Some studies have shown improve-
ment in or positive associations with mood, self-
esteem, morale and a lower occurrence of depressive
symptoms. In addition, the Physical Activity Guidelines
Advisory Committee Report 2008 showed that PA was
associated with an approximately 30–45% decrease in
the risk of depressive symptoms in cross-sectional
studies, and a 15–25% decrease in prospective stud-
Findings from a review of studies have shown that
habitual moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activ-
ity (MVPA) is positively associated with measured
depressive symptoms in older adults.
the results of the Nakanojo study showed that the
overall health of older adults was associated with PA at
an intensity of ≥3 metabolic equivalents (METs), while
Accepted for publication 27 August 2017.
Correspondence: Dr Songee Jung PhD, Department of Preventive
Gerontology, Center for Gerontology and Social Science, National
Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, 7-430 Morioka, Obu,
Aichi 474-8511, Japan. Email: email@example.com
doi: 10.1111/ggi.13195 |© 2017 Japan Geriatrics Society
Geriatr Gerontol Int 2018; 18: 421–427