Exercise reduces COPD depression risk

Anxiety and depression are common among people with the serious lung disease, COPD. However a new study has found that increasing physical activity reduces the risk of developing these mental health conditions.

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is an umbrella term for a number of chronic lung disorders, including bronchitis and emphysema. It is a progressive, disabling condition caused by a narrowing of the airways.

The disease currently affects around 440,000 people in Ireland and it is the world's fourth biggest killer.

It is already well established that people with COPD are highly likely to have other health conditions as well. Mental health problems are particularly common, with the prevalence of depression and anxiety around 40% in COPD patients compared with around 10% in the general population.

One of the main reasons for this is thought to be low levels of physical activity, so Dutch and Swiss researchers decided to investigate further.

They monitored 409 COPD patients for up to five years to see how much physical activity they regularly undertook. During this time, the patients also reported any other conditions they were affected by and they underwent mental health assessments.

The study found that those who undertook higher levels of physical activity had an 11% reduced risk of developing anxiety over the next five years. Their risk of developing depression during the same time was 15% lower.

"In COPD patients, those with high physical activity are less likely to develop depression or anxiety over time. Physical activity promotion programmes may be considered to lower the burden of mental disorders in COPD patients," the researchers suggested.

Details of their findings were presented at the recent European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress in London.


[Posted: Tue 13/09/2016]

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