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Exercise May Not Ward Off Teen Depression

U.K. research finds no apparent link, but U.S. experts are not convinced

TUESDAY, Oct. 14, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Although exercise has long been thought to help improve the symptoms of depression, teenagers may not reap these benefits, a new British study suggests.

The research, published online Oct. 13 in JAMA Pediatrics, involved 736 teens who were tracked from November 2005 through January 2010 by a team led by Umar Toseeb, Ph.D., from the University of Cambridge. At the start of the study, the researchers measured weekday and weekend physical activity of the teens, whose average age was 14. They also had the teens fill out a questionnaire about their mood changes.

The teens averaged about 53 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each weekday, and about 32 minutes daily on the weekends. Three years later, when the participants were 17, the researchers had them all fill out the mood questionnaire again. The researchers didn't find any connection between the levels of physical activity at age 14 and any depression experienced at age 17.

"Our findings do not eliminate the possibility that physical activity positively affects depressed mood in the general population; rather, we suggest that this effect may be small or nonexistent during the period of adolescence," the researchers write.

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