Physical activity and depression in young people. The Fit Futures Study

Among adults, there is good indication that physical activity can prevent anxiety and depression. The evidence base of a preventive effect of physical activity is much less rigorous among adolescents, as there are far fewer studies on the topic and the results are mixed – some show that there is a relationship between physical activity and mental health, whereas other studies do not.

Furthermore, most studies have used self-reported data on physical activity, with low validity. Knowledge of causal connections and underlying mechanisms is imperative in order to enable effective prevention strategies. We plan to investigate the relationship between physical activity and anxiety and depression in young people using data from Fit Futures 1 and 2. Fit Futures 1 was collected in 2010-11 and Fit Futures 2 in 2012-13 among selected upper secondary schools in Tromsø and Balsfjord municipality. 685 pupils participated in both Fit Futures 1 and Fit Futures 2, and device based measurements of physical activity were made using accelerometers. Anxiety and depression were measured by a self-reported questionnaire.

Ida Marie Opdal defended her thesis “Physical activity and mental distress among adolescents” based on data from this project in 2020.

Kamilla Rognmo will write two articles on data from the project.

Collaborating partners: Kjersti Rønningen Lillevoll, Anne Sofie Furberg, Christopher Sivert Nielsen, Bjørn Helge Handegård, Bente Morseth, Helga Ask, Wendy Nilsen, and Simon Rosenbaum.

Project period: 2017-2024


Kamilla Rognmo
Kjersti Lillevoll

Financial/grant information:

Northern Norway Regional Health Authority