Mental disorder prevention and physical activity in Iranian elderly

Seyede Salehe Mortazavi, Kazem Mohammad, Hasan Eftekhar Ardebili, Dorali Ben Beni, Maryam Mahmoodi, Ammar Hassanzadeh Keshteli


Background: Mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and dementia are common in elderly. However, physical activity is suggested to be effective in preventing such aging-related disorders. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of physical activity on mental health in later life.

Methods: Four hundred elderly people were randomly divided into the intervention and control groups. The intervention consisted of exercise twice a week for two months. Mental health status before, just after, and three months after the study was assessed with the 28-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28(.

Results: The mean of the GHQ-28 total scale decreased in the case group and this change remained significant after three months (before: 8 ± 5.5, after three months: 5.6 ± 4.6, p < .001). GHQ subscales including somatization, anxiety, social dysfunction, and depression decreased significantly in the case group just after and three months after the intervention.

Conclusion: Physical activity significantly prevents mental disorder in older adults. Although it has effects on anxiety, social dysfunction, and depression, the greatest influence is on improving the somatization symptoms.

Keywords: Aging, GHQ-28, mental health, physical activity

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