The long-term benefits of lifting weights and the connection between the mind and the body are more significant than scientists initially thought.
In a new study, involving more than 18,000 participants, researchers from the University of Texas found that people who lifted regularly from a young age were significantly less likely to die from heart disease later in life – even if they were diagnosed with symptoms of depression.
The research specifically highlights the impact of depression on health and mortality. Heart health and depression often go hand-in-hand and depression has been linked to higher probabilities that someone will develop heart disease and chest pain. Scientists suggest that starting to exercise early in life and continuing to do it often could protect both the mental and physical health of patients who are battling depression and facing heart disease risks.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, used a database of participants who had their cardio-respiratory fitness measured at an average age of 50.
Researchers used administrative data to establish correlations between the participants’ fitness at midlife to rates of depression and heart disease in older age.
Those with higher fitness levels were 56 percent less likely to eventually die from heart disease following a depression diagnosis. Depression has been linked to several other chronic medical conditions including diabetes, obesity, and chronic kidney disease.
“There is enough evidence to show that the effect of low fitness on depression and heart disease is real,” Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, co-author of the study, says. “But further study is needed to establish the mechanism by which this effect happens.”