Vigorous Physical Activity and Depressive Symptoms in College Students

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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The purpose of this study was to examine whether college students meeting the vigorous physical activity (VPA) recommendation reported less frequent symptoms of depression than those not meeting the recommendation.


A secondary analysis of the Utah Higher Education Health Behavior Survey was conducted. Descriptive statistics and unconditional logistic regressions were calculated.


The final sample included 8621 participants (age = 21.34 ± 2.6 years). There was a difference in the frequency of depressive symptoms and VPA. Those not meeting the VPA recommendation reported having more frequent depressive symptoms than those meeting the VPA recommendation. Results were consistent by gender.


In this sample, our data suggest VPA may be associated with a reduction in depressive symptoms. These findings might be indicative of a dose–response relationship between VPA and symptoms of depression in college students.

Harbour is with the Dept of Health Promotion and Education, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112. Behrens is with the Dept of Kinesiology and Community Health Institute, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506. Kim is with the Dept of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84108. Kitchens is Program Director of the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, Salt Lake City, UT 84103.