Impact of Physical Exercise on Depression and Anxiety Symptoms, Quality of Life and Muscle Strength in the Elderly

Vaida Meidutė, Vida Janina Česnaitienė


Background. Mood disorders affect the quality of life and functional abilities in older people. The elderly are often physically inactive, suffering from chronic diseases. It is not clear if physical exercise improves quality of life and motor function in patients with depressive and anxiety symptoms.

The aim. To determine the impact of physical exercise on depression and anxiety symptoms, quality of life and muscle strength in the elderly.

Methods. Eighteen individuals over 60 years of age were studied. Subjects were evaluated before and after physical exercise interventions using the following assessment methods: Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale; Short version of the WHO Quality of Life Questionnaire WHOQOL-BREF; Manual muscle testing.

Results. Subjects had decreased scores for depression, anxiety, and general psychoemotional area, improved quality of life scores in all areas, and improved muscle strength in all groups studied. The percentage change after exercise intervention was better in functional movements in those who rated their physical health worse before exercise. The percentage change in subjects who rated psychological health better before physical exercise intervention was better in the area of anxiety and overall psychoemotional status than in those who rated it worse. In the area of social relations, the percentage change did not differ between the groups (p < 0.05).

Conclusion. After eight weeks of physical exercise intervention in the elderly, depression and anxiety rates were reduced, and quality of life and motor functions were improved in the subjects.

Keywords. Physical exercise, depression and anxiety, the elderly, quality of life, motor functions.

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