Physical activity is an important aspect of both our pre-surgery and post-surgery treatment plan at Oregon Weight Loss Surgery. There have been many health benefits linked with physical activity, including both physical and mental benefits. At the recent Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery (LABS) Consortium attended by Dr. Emma Patterson, there was an interesting study presented showing the mental benefits of even a very modest amount of weekly exercise.

The new study was conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, and included 850 adults who were seeking bariatric surgery between 2006 and 2009 at 10 different surgery centers in the United States.  Through assessing participants’ physical activity and mental health functioning for a week prior to undergoing bariatric surgery, they found that the patients who were more physically active were less likely to have depressive symptoms and to have recently received medication or counseling for depression or anxiety than their less active counterparts. Surprisingly, patients who participated in just an hour of moderate-intensity activity per week had marked reduction in depressive symptoms.  These participants had 92 percent lower odds of treatment for depression or anxiety.  Patients who took just 4,750 steps a day — less than half the 10,000 steps recommended for a healthy adult – had an 81 percent reduction in odds of depression or anxiety treatment.

The lead study author explained that for patients struggling with severe obesity, it could be that “important mental health benefits can be gained by simply not being sedentary.” While this study cannot prove that a patient’s physical activity influenced mental health status, it is encouraging to see that even very modest activity—the equivalent of just over 8 minutes per day–is associated with better mental health.  Obesity is linked with higher rates of depressive disorders and anxiety, so if something as simple as exercising a few minutes per day can reduce these problems, we think it is worthwhile to share with our patients.

You can learn more about how to make healthy lifestyle changes, and whether weight loss surgery may be a good option for you, by attending one of our free informational seminars.

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