College-Age Depression May Cause Lazy Behavior In Males

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Source: Flickr

Source: Flickr

Do you have a male friend or relative who spends all their time watching TV or fiddling about online? There are lots of reasons why they may be spending their time distracting themselves, but a new study says males who were depressed during the first few years after high school are more likely to live sedentary lifestyles.

The study, published in the journal Preventative Medicine, found that sedentary habits, which often result from depression, are established in the early 20s, and can establish a pattern that lasts well into later life.

The study examined the lives of 760 20-year-old men and women living in Montreal who were found to be showing the signs and symptoms of depression between 207 and 2008. The participants were then asked to track their time spent in front of the TV or computer screen when they were 24. The difference between what the female participants reported and their male counterparts was staggering.

“We started out with the idea that early depression might later turn everyone into couch potatoes, just sitting around glued to the TV or a computer screen,” said study author Dr. Nancy Low, a psychiatrist at McGill University. “But what we didn’t expect was to see such a clear difference between what men and women were doing.”

The scientists found that the male participants spent about four more hours in front of screen each week compared to the female participants. The males averaged spending more than 3 hours in front of screens per day. This is more than twice the amount suggested by the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology.

Most worrying, the participants were not asked to record their mobile phone usage, which may indicate the subjects were spending even more time in front of screens than reported.

“This study signals that young men who have been depressed are more likely than young women to become trapped in a vicious cycle where depression later leads to more sedentary behavior which in turn may contribute to later health problems that also include depression.” Low said. “What we need to do is figure out how best to intervene early in the process. And one of the things we’re looking into now is how that online time, and things like mobile apps, can best be used to help young people deal with their depression and become more physically active.”

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