Do you lack strength in your hand grip? Is depression the cause?

A recent study suggests that a weak upper and lower body fitness can cause serious depression and anxiety in midlife women.

Although several studies have previously linked depression in midlife women with self-reported low physical activity, this new study evaluates objective measures of physical performance in relation to depression and anxiety in premenopausal, perimenopausal, and postmenopausal women.

Both depression and anxiety are prevalent symptoms experienced by midlife women. This latest study of more than 1,100 women aged 45 to 69 years found, in fact, that 15% of participants, especially those of younger age, reported depression and/or anxiety.

Findings were published in the Journal of the North American Menopause Society. Because depression can cause disability, reduced quality of life, mortality, and heart disease, researchers felt it was important to identify potentially modifiable risk factors that could reduce morbidity and mortality.

The study observed significant associations of objective physical performance measures with

depression and anxiety.

The study found that weak upper body strength which is handgrip strength and poor lower body strength were associated with elevated depression and/or anxiety symptoms.

Future trials will be needed to understand whether strengthening exercises help reduce depression and anxiety in midlife women the way it improves physical performance.

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