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Physical activity patterns of people affected by depressive and anxiety disorders as measured by accelerometers: a cross-sectional study
PHS, EPHIR Karolinska Institutet.
PHS, EPHIR Karolinska Institutet.
Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences, GIH, Department of Sport and Health Sciences, Åstrand Laboratory of Work Physiology, Björn Ekblom's and Mats Börjesson's research group.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6058-4982
2015 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 10, no 1, e0115894- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


Exercise can relieve both depressive and anxiety disorders and it is therefore of importance to establish movement patterns of mildly to moderately affected sufferers to estimate the treatment potential. The aim is to describe the physical activity patterns of people affected by mild to moderate depressive and/or anxiety symptoms using objective measures of physical activity.


The design of the study was cross-sectional using data from 165 people aged 18-65 years, with mild to moderate depressive and/or anxiety disorder symptoms (scoring ≥10 on the PHQ-9). Diagnoses were made using Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI) and symptom severity was measured with the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS). The participants wore accelerometers for a week to evaluate physical activity patterns.


No statistically significant differences were detected between different diagnoses, though depressed participants tended to be less active and more sedentary. Only one-fifth of the sample followed public health guidelines regarding physical activity. Each one point increase in MADRS was associated with a 2.4 minute reduction in light physical activity, independent of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and sedentary time. MADRS was positively associated with number of sedentary bouts.


The physical activity pattern of people with depressive and/or anxiety disorders was characterized by large amounts of sedentary time and low fulfillment of physical activity guidelines. There is therefore a large treatment potential for this group by increasing exercise. The results suggest that instead of focusing exclusively on high intensity exercise for treating depressive and anxiety disorders, health care providers might encourage patients to reduce sedentary time by increasing light physical activity and decreasing the number of sedentary bouts, though further studies are needed that can determine directionality.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 10, no 1, e0115894- p.
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:gih:diva-3714DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0115894OAI: diva2:781425
Available from: 2015-01-16 Created: 2015-01-16 Last updated: 2016-09-05Bibliographically approved

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