Heart attack survivors who exercised for years prior to the event have a lower risk of developing depression, according to a new study.
Researchers looked at 189 people in Norway after their first heart attack. People who were physically active for 10 years before their heart attack were 20 percent less likely to be depressed after the event than those who were inactive, the investigators found.
The study also revealed that those who had been inactive but started exercising before their heart attack were less likely to be depressed than those who had been active but stopped exercising.
The findings were published recently in the American Journal of Medicine.
“Our results add strength to the evidence of a causal link between physical activity and mental health,” study first author Linda Ernstsen, of the Center for Exercise in Medicine at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said in a university news release.
“In fact, we do not know if the heart attack itself is related to the prevalence of depression or if it is the change in physical activity level that is the driving force behind our findings. More research is definitely needed in this area,” she added.
The findings reinforce the link between physical activity and depression, and highlight the need for people with or at risk for heart disease and/or depression to boost their physical activity levels, the researchers said.
The American Heart Association has more about depression after heart attack.