BALTIMORE – The ability of physical activity to ease symptoms of depression has been studied frequently in Caucasian individuals. Research presented today at the American College of Sports Medicine’s 57th Annual Meeting in Baltimore shows that African-Americans and Black Caribbeans may also enjoy a boost from exercise or participating in sports.
Researchers analyzed data from the National Survey of American Life. Respondents were 4,716 individuals ages 18-94, constituting a representative sample of non-clinically depressed African Americans and black Caribbeans living in the United States. In addition to exercise habits and involvement in sports, Elisa Torres, Ph.D., and her colleagues looked at personal factors (age, body mass index, disability, family history of depression and perceived discrimination) and environmental factors (household income, region of country and neighborhood safety). Overall results were comparable to those found in studies of Caucasians.
“We found a robust association between higher sports/exercise participation and lower depressive symptoms for men and women of both ethnic groups,” Torres said. “But personal and environmental factors also played a significant role.”
Sports/exercise participation combined with personal and environmental factors explained a significant amount of the variance in depressive symptoms in Black Caribbean men (46 percent), Black Caribbean women (11 percent), African-American men (16 percent), and African-American women (24 percent).
Torres proposed further research examining exercise in black U.S. adults to measure intensity, frequency, duration and type of exercise in order to compare results to other studies and national guidelines for physical activity.
The conclusions outlined in this news release are those of the researchers only, and should not be construed as an official statement of the American College of Sports Medicine.