Regular exercise, anxiety, depression and personality: A population-based study

M.H.M. de Moor, A.L. Beem, J.H. Stubbe, D.I. Boomsma, E.J.C. de Geus

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: To examine whether regular exercise is associated with anxiety, depression and personality in a large population-based sample as a function of gender and age. Methods: The sample consisted of adolescent and adult twins and their families (N = 19,288) who participated in the study on lifestyle and health from The Netherlands Twin Registry (1991-2002). Exercise participation, anxiety, depression and personality were assessed with self-report questionnaires. Results: The overall prevalence of exercise participation (with a minimum of 60 min weekly at 4 METs (Metabolic Energy Expenditure Index)) in our sample was 51.4%. Exercise participation strongly declined with age from about 70% in young adolescents to 30% in older adults. Among adolescents, males exercised more, whereas, among older adults, females exercised more. Exercisers were on average less anxious (-0.18 SD), depressed (-0.29 SD) and neurotic (-0.14 SD), more extraverted (+0.32 SD) and were higher in dimensions of sensation seeking (from +0.25 SD to +0.47 SD) than non-exercisers. These differences were modest in size, but very consistent across gender and age. Conclusions: This study corroborates and extends previous findings: regular exercise is cross-sectionally associated with lower neuroticism, anxiety and depression and higher extraversion and sensation seeking in the population. © 2006 The Institute For Cancer Prevention and Elsevier Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-279
JournalPreventive Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Cohort Studies

  • Netherlands Twin Register (NTR)


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