Physical Activity May Help Reduce Disease Related Fatigue and Depression

US researchers studying patients with chronic diseases found that physical activity may actually help reduce the incidence of depression and fatigue. The findings were made by researchers at the University of Illinois in Champaign and were published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

The findings were made when participants were made to increase self-efficacy or the belief that a person can master physical goals and attain a sense of accomplishment through personal application. It simply means the belief in accomplishing a certain goal.

Dr. Edward McAuley, professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois in Champaign said, "Physically active individuals have an increased sense of accomplishment, or situation-specific self-confidence, which in turn results in reduced depression and reduced fatigue."

Although many studies have already provided evidence that physical activity help reduce fatigue and depression in people living with chronic illnesses, this recent study suggested that the reason for this might stem from the person’s self-efficacy.

In order to arrive at this finding, the researchers analyzed data coming from two published studies involving people affected by chronic diseases. One study focused on 192 breast cancer survivors while the other involved 292 people with multiple sclerosis.

In both studies, participants were made to fill out questionnaires using different metrics for health status, physical activity, self-efficacy, fatigue and depression. In the group involving MS participants, extra data on physical activity included measurements made from accelerometers that the participants wore during their waking hours for seven days.

The results showed that physical activity has a direct result on self-efficacy in both groups. In the same way, self-efficacy also had a direct effect on fatigue and an indirect effect in depression symptoms in both studies. Controlling the effect of self-efficacy on depression and fatigue also affected the influence of physical activity on both depression and fatigue. Factors such as demographics and health status do not seem to change the significance of the said links.



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