Bariatric surgery is an increasingly common treatment for obesity. After the surgery, however, healthy habits contribute to weight loss. They also contribute to positive mental health.
That's the finding of a recent study that looked at depression and anxiety symptoms in a group of adults who had bariatric surgery.
Adults who got a little extra exercise each day - just eight minutes of intense physical activity - felt better.
They showed lower levels of depression and anxiety symptoms than adults who did not get much physical activity each day.
The study, led by Wendy C. King, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, looked at whether there was any relationship between exercise and mental health in individuals who had undergone bariatric surgery.
The researchers gathered data on the physical activity of 850 adults who underwent bariatric surgery for obesity.
The participants wore step activity monitors that tracked their average daily steps, the number of minutes of activity they had each day and the amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity they had daily.
Each participant was then assessed for anxiety and depression symptoms using standardized psychology tools.
The researchers found that the more exercise the participants got, the less likely they were to have symptoms of anxiety or depression.
This finding remained true even when the researchers took other differences between the participants into account, such as their physical health, their income and their age.
There was no link between physical activity levels and overall mental health functioning.
The researchers calculated the minimum amount of physical activity at which point the depression or anxiety symptoms particularly dropped off among the participants.
Those who were active at least 191 minutes (3.2 hours) a day, who got at least eight minutes of high-level activity a day and/or who took at least 4,750 steps a day were those most likely to avoid feeling depressed or anxious.
Just eight minutes a day translates to about an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week. Those meeting that threshold were "less likely to have recently received treatment for depression or anxiety compared to less active counterparts," the researchers wrote.
The study was published in the February issue of the Journal of Psychosomatic Research. The research was funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The researchers declared no conflicts of interest.