Leisure-time physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness and feelings of hopelessness in men

Valtonen, Maarit; Laaksonen, David E.; Laukkanen, Jari; Tolmunen, Tommi; Rauramaa, Rainer; Viinamäki, Heimo; Kauhanen, Jussi; Lakka, Timo; Niskanen, Leo
January 2009
BMC Public Health;2009, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p204
Academic Journal
Background: Leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) and cardiorespiratory fitness contribute to mental health. Hopelessness has been linked to impaired mental health, cardiovascular events and mortality. Previous studies have focused on physical exercise and depression. We examined the associations of LTPA and cardiorespiratory fitness with feelings of hopelessness. Methods: In this cross-sectional study leisure-time physical activity, maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), hopelessness and cardiovascular risk factors were assessed in a population-based cohort of 2428 men aged 42 - 60 years old at baseline. Results: Men feeling more hopeless about their future and reaching goals were less physically active, less fit and had a higher prevalence of many cardiovascular risk factors than men with lower levels of hopelessness. In a logistic regression model adjusted for age, smoking, alcohol consumption, cardiovascular disease and socioeconomic status, men engaging in less than 60 min/ week of moderate-to-vigorous LTPA were 37% (95% CI 11 - 67%) more likely to feel hopeless than those engaging in at least 2.5 h/wk of LTPA. After further adjusting for elevated depressive symptoms the association of LTPA and hopelessness remained significant. VO2max was also associated with hopelessness, but not after adjustment for depressive symptoms. Conclusion: Moderate and vigorous LTPA and cardiorespiratory fitness were inversely associated with hopelessness in these middle-aged men. These findings suggest that physical inactivity and poor cardiorespiratory fitness is an important associate of hopelessness, a distinct element of low subjective well-being.


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