Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) finds that physical activity can help mitigate depression

The research which was conducted across Europe including Malta reveals that different levels of physical activity can mitigate depression symptoms among older adults.

A study by Cheval et al. with SHARE data provides a new perspective on the relationship between cognition and physical activity. They find that people who score high at cognitive tests are associated with more frequent engagement in physical activity. The study also identifies a chronological order in this relationship, meaning that age-related decline of cognitive resources precedes the decline in physical activity while aging.

Just to give a practical example, the research found that even moderate physical activity like gardening helps keep you physically and mentally fit. The following are the highlights:

  • Both moderate physical activity (MPA) and vigorous physical activity (VPA) have beneficial effects on depression symptoms, even if participated only once a week.
  • MPA and VPA had a similar effect on depression symptoms in men and women.
  • Policies for promoting mental health should include physical activity promotion for the prevention or treatment of depression.

EMCS has been the official agency in Malta for data collection for the Survey on Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) since 2016.

The research focuses on the study of health, social, economic and environmental policies over the life-course of European citizens and beyond.

From 2004 until today, 480,000 in-depth interviews with 140,000 people aged 50 or older from 28 European countries and Israel have been conducted. Thus, SHARE is the largest pan-European social science panel study providing internationally comparable longitudinal micro data which allow insights in the fields of public health and socio-economic living conditions of European individuals.