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Prev Med. 2006 Apr;42(4):273-9. Epub 2006 Jan 24.

Regular exercise, anxiety, depression and personality: a population-based study.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. mhm.de.moor@psy.vu.nl

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To examine whether regular exercise is associated with anxiety, depression and personality in a large population-based sample as a function of gender and age.

METHODS:

The sample consisted of adolescent and adult twins and their families (N=19,288) who participated in the study on lifestyle and health from The Netherlands Twin Registry (1991-2002). Exercise participation, anxiety, depression and personality were assessed with self-report questionnaires.

RESULTS:

The overall prevalence of exercise participation (with a minimum of 60 min weekly at 4 METs (Metabolic Energy Expenditure Index)) in our sample was 51.4%. Exercise participation strongly declined with age from about 70% in young adolescents to 30% in older adults. Among adolescents, males exercised more, whereas, among older adults, females exercised more. Exercisers were on average less anxious (-0.18 SD), depressed (-0.29 SD) and neurotic (-0.14 SD), more extraverted (+0.32 SD) and were higher in dimensions of sensation seeking (from+0.25 SD to+0.47 SD) than non-exercisers. These differences were modest in size, but very consistent across gender and age.

CONCLUSIONS:

This study corroborates and extends previous findings: regular exercise is cross-sectionally associated with lower neuroticism, anxiety and depression and higher extraversion and sensation seeking in the population.

PMID:
16439008
DOI:
10.1016/j.ypmed.2005.12.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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