Physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep are potential risk factors of mental health disorders, but previous studies have not considered the dependency between these activity domains. Therefore, we examined the associations of reallocations of time among older adults’ physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep with depressive and anxiety symptoms using compositional isotemporal substitution analyses.
We included 1943 participants (mean age 71 years, SD: 9; 52% women) from the population-based Rotterdam Study. Between 2011 and 2016, we collected accelerometer data (mean duration 5.8 days, SD: 0.4) on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep and self-reported data on depressive symptoms and anxiety.
A reallocation of 30 min more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was associated with a –0.55 (95% CI –1.04 to –0.06) points lower depressive symptoms score when replacing sleep and a –0.59 (95% CI –1.06 to –0.12) points lower score when replacing sedentary behaviour, but not when replacing light physical activity (–0.70, 95% CI –1.63 to 0.24). No associations were found for anxiety.
Replacing sedentary behaviour or sleep with more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was associated with less depressive symptoms, suggesting that mainly intensive types of physical activity are important for middle-aged and older adults in relation to depressive symptoms.