Meeting the WHO physical activity guidelines is associated with lower odds of depression in older adults : Potential psychosomatic mechanisms

Razak M. GYASI*, Nicholas QUANSAH, Paul Antwi BOATENG, Eric AKOMEAH, Abdul-Fatawu YAKUBU, Patience Aku AHIABLI, Emelia AIKINS, Obed Jones OWUSU-SARPONG, Yunus DUMBE, Michael NIMOH, David R. PHILLIPS, André HAJEK

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


Limited data exist on the association between physical activity (PA) and depression in older adults from low—and middle-income countries (LMICs). In this study, we examine the association between meeting the World Health Organization (WHO) PA guidelines and depression in adults aged ≥50 years in Ghana and investigate the psychosomatic factors explaining this association.

Cross-sectional data from the Aging, Health, Psychological Well-being, and Health-seeking Behavior Study in Ghana (2016-18) were analyzed. Depression was assessed with the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D-10). PA was assessed using the International Physical Activity Questionnaire Short Form (IPAQ-SF). Multivariable logistic regression and Hayes PROCESS macro with bootstrapping mediation analyses were performed to evaluate the hypothesized associations.

The study included 1201 individuals (mean (SD) age 66.1 (11.9) years; 63.3% women). The prevalence of meeting PA guidelines and depression was 36.7% and 29.5%, respectively. Meeting the WHO-recommended PA guidelines was associated with a 16% lower rate of developing depression even after adjusting for potential confounders (OR=0.84, p<0.001). This association was much stronger among men and those aged 50-64 years. Loneliness, social isolation, sleep problems, functional limitations, and pain characteristics largely mediated the association of PA with depression.

PA was negatively associated with depression among older adults in Ghana, and psychosocial and physical factors partially explained the association. The promotion of PA in old age may aid in the prevention of depression, especially in men and those aged 50-64 years. Longitudinal data may confirm our findings.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Early online date4 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry


  • Depression
  • older people
  • pain
  • physical activity
  • psychosomatic factors
  • sleep


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