Level and timing of physical activity in depression
By Olga Minaeva
Depressive symptoms are known to be associated with reduced physical activity, however, it is still unclear which aspects of activity are important in depression. In our study we were specifically interested in two aspects: level of physical activity (how active a person is during the day), and timing of activity (at what time of the day a person is the most active). We investigated these both aspects in one of the biggest samples with objective measurements of physical activity. We used 14 days of actigraphy data obtained from participants of the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA) and compared physical activity of depressed to non-depressed participants. We found, as expected, that depressed participants had lower levels of physical activity during the day. Interestingly, we also found that the daily activity rhythm was more dampened in depressed individuals. Moreover, depressed individuals were becoming the most active approximately 30 minutes later during the day than non-depressed individuals. This effect was even more visible in those with a diagnosis for depression in the past month compared to those diagnosed in the past six months. Our ﬁndings clarify how both level and timing of activity are associated to depression. These insights should be considered when designing studies focusing on individual (n=1) experiments that reflect clinical practice more realistically.
Minaeva, O., Booij, S. H., Lamers, F., Antypa, N., Schoevers, R. A., Wichers, M., & Riese, H. (2020). Level and timing of physical activity during normal daily life in depressed and non-depressed individuals. Translational Psychiatry, 10(1), 1-11.