Sedentary Behavior Linked to Increased Risk for Depression in Older Adults

older man sad
older man sad
Investigators found data that showed longer sedentary time frames correlated with increased risk for depression in older patients.

Sedentary behavior is associated with depression among patients aged 70 years with longer daily periods of inactivity correlating with increased risk for depression, according to a study recently published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

This study included data from 3633 Swedish participants from the Healthy Ageing Initiative who were aged 70 years, with data collected between 2012 and 2017. Participants wore an accelerometer at home for 1 week after their initial visits to objectively measure sedentary behavior and physical activity. The 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15) was used to measure depression, with a score ≥5 indicating depression and <5 indicating nondepression. Covariate differences between depressed and nondepressed groups were investigated using the t-test and χ2 test, while the association between depression and sedentary behavior was investigated using hierarchical logistic regression.

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The risk for depression was greater among individuals with a longer total sedentary time (odds ratio [OR] 1.031; 95% CI, 1.007-1.055), with each 1% increase in sedentary time associated with a 3% increase in risk for depression. The risk was also greater among individuals with longer average length of sedentary bouts (OR 1.116; 95% CI, 1.003-1.243), in which each 1-minute average increase in the length of sedentary bouts was associated with a 12% greater risk for depression. 

Limitations to this study include the use of self-assessment in the GDS-15, potential selection bias due to those with physical impairment or acute depression not participating in the study, and the possibility that participants performed activities outside of their normal routines due to monitoring.

The study researchers concluded that sedentary behavior “is a potential risk factor for depression among older adults.” These findings were made more robust by the “adjustment for PA and the use of an objective measure in a large sample.” For clinicians treating older adults with depression, “the association between [sedentary behavior] and depression may be important to consider in the development of future recommendations.”

Eriksson M, Nääs S, Berginström N, Nordström P, Hansson P, Nordström A. Sedentary behavior as a potential risk factor for depression among 70-year-olds [published online November 12, 2019]. J Affect Disord. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2019.11.035