Physical activity and depressive symptoms among adolescents in a school-based sample


Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry




Objective: To explore associations between self-reported weekly physical activity and depressive symptomatology among adolescents in a school-based sample from Brazil. Methods: We surveyed 7,405 adolescents aged 14 to 16 years in 101 public schools in Porto Alegre, Brazil. We assessed physical activity using an adapted version of the Patient-Centered Assessment and Counseling for Exercise Plus Nutrition – Adolescent Physical Activity Measure (PACE+), and depressive symptoms using the Brazilian Portuguese version of the Patient Health Questionnaire – Adolescent Version. We compared the depressive symptom scores among adolescents with varying levels of physical activity. Results: Of the overall sample, 84.4% exercised less than the recommended frequency of 60 minutes/day, at least 5 days/week, of moderate to intense physical activity (PACE+ score ≥ 5). Adolescents whose physical activity levels fell below that threshold had higher median depression scores (8 [IQR = 10] vs. 7 [IQR = 9], W = 4060461, p < 0.001). A similar pattern was observed for depression scores in those with PACE+ < 1 (median of 10 [IQR = 11]) and ≥ 1 (7 [IQR = 9], W = 7457608, p < 0.001). Conclusion: In this large sample of Brazilian adolescents, those who exercised less frequently and vigorously than their peers reported more depressive symptoms.

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