Physical activity and depression in middle and older-aged adults with multiple sclerosis.

TitlePhysical activity and depression in middle and older-aged adults with multiple sclerosis.
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsJensen MP, Molton IR, Gertz KJ, Bombardier CH, Rosenberg DE
JournalMultiple Sclerosis
Issue10 Suppl

Introduction: Physical activity and depression are known to be associated, and reactivation programs have demonstrated efficacy as a treatment for depression. However, little research has examined the associations between physical activity and depression in individuals with multiple sclerosis (MS). Moreover, the extent to which physical activity changes as a function of age, and whether or not the associations between activity and depression vary as a function of age in multiple sclerosis is not known. Knowledge regarding these associations is important for determining whether, and for whom, reactivation programs might be effective for individuals aging with MS. Methods: Individuals with MS (N=112; mean age: 52.59 years; 81.3% women) completed a survey assessing demographic variables (age, sex), self-reported moderate and vigorous physical activity, and depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9). Analyses tested for the effect of age on physical activity, and effects of age and physical activity on depression. Results: The percentages of participants reporting that they engaged in moderate and vigorous physical activity decreased across the age cohorts (e.g., percentages were 86%, 73%, and 57% for moderate activity; 50%, 37%, and 14% for vigorous activity for the young, middle aged, and older age cohorts, respectively). Minutes of moderate activity in the past week were highest among the middle age cohort (238 minutes), less in the young adult cohort (160 minutes), and least in the older cohort (95 minutes). However, minutes of vigorous physical activity decreased as a function of cohort (156, 77, and 33 minutes). Regression analyses indicated that minutes of moderate activity, but not minutes of vigorous activity, was significantly associated with lower depression scores, and that this effect did not differ as a function of age. Conclusions: The findings indicate that moderate and vigorous activity levels are lower for individuals with MS who are 65 years and older than in individuals who are younger than 65 years. Moderate activity was associated with lower levels of depression across all age cohorts. If these findings confirmed in future studies, they suggest that physical activity programs might effectively treat (or prevent) depression in persons with MS if they: (1) focus more on increasing moderate activities (as opposed to vigorous ones) and (2) be developed to address the needs of individuals with MS across the age spectrum.