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The association of physical (in)activity with mental health. Differences between elder and younger populations: a systematic literature review

Maynou-Pujolras, Laia ORCID: 0000-0002-0447-2959, Hernández-Pizarro, Helena and Errea Rodríguez, María (2021) The association of physical (in)activity with mental health. Differences between elder and younger populations: a systematic literature review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18 (9). ISSN 1661-7827

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Identification Number: 10.3390/ijerph18094771


Background: Physical activity is associated with mental health benefits. This systematic litera-ture review summarises extant evidence regarding this association, and explores differences ob-served between populations over sixty-five years and those younger than sixty-five. Methods: We reviewed articles and grey literature reporting at least one measure of physical activity and at least one mental disorder, in people of all ages. Results: From the 2,263 abstracts screened, we extracted twenty-seven articles and synthesized the evidence regarding the association between physical (in)activity and one or more mental health outcome measures. We confirmed that phys-ical activity is beneficial for mental health. However, the evidence was mostly based on self-reported physical activity and mental health measures. Only one study compared younger and elder populations, finding that increasing the level of physical activity improved mental health for middle aged and elder women (no association was observed for younger women). Studies including only the elderly found a restricted mental health improvement due to physical activi-ty. Conclusions: We found inverse associations between levels of physical activity and mental health problems. However, more evidence regarding the effect of ageing when measuring asso-ciations between physical activity and mental health is needed. By doing so, prescription of physical activity could be more accurately targeted.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors
Divisions: Health Policy
LSE Health
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2021 10:33
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2021 01:15

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