The results suggest that depressive symptoms can "minimize the health effects of what many Americans are doing to reduce our risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes — exercise more and adopt a Mediterranean-type diet that includes light to moderate alcohol consumption," said the lead researcher.
In the study, they found that light to moderate alcohol intake (about half a drink daily for women and 1 drink daily for men) was associated with lower CRP (C-reactive protein, a general marker of inflammation), but only in men who were not depressed.
The researchers also found that individuals who were leisurely physically active (like walking, playing tennis, and going to exercise classes) generally had lower levels of CRP, with the exception of those with depressive symptoms (4.5% of the cohort), who reaped no beneficial effect of physical activity on CRP levels.
The effect seems to be specific to inflammation as measured by CRP (depression did not affect other health markers, such as fasting triglyceride or cholesterol levels, the investigators note). However, inflammation is a significant, and possibly one of the main factors in most chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular health. So this is a significant finding.
The great thing about exercise and physical activity, however, is that we're looking at a reverse catch-22. While this study found depression negated one particular benefit of exercise, if you've got depression, that's no excuse to stop. We know from many other studies that exercise helps alleviate depression and anxiety, so MORE exercise is in order. This will help overcome the depression, which in turn will allow you to reap the full benefits of physical activity.
So stop reading this and get moving!
Source: Depression inhibits the anti-inflammatory effects of leisure time physical activity and light to moderate alcohol consumption
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