Physically active children are likely to grow into happier adults, insulated against depression in later life.
This is the conclusion of a Deakin University study based on self-reported levels of physical activity and depression in 2,152 women and men.
Researchers found those reporting low physical activity levels as a child were 35 per cent more likely to report depression as adults compared to those reporting higher levels of physical activity in childhood.
Felice Jacka, a researcher with Deakin's School of Medicine, said, "Being physically active as a child may be important to adult mental health," according to a Deakin statement.
"Involvement in sport is also known to influence the development of important coping and stress management skills in children and adolescents and has been shown to be associated with greater emotional well-being in adolescents," Jacka said.
"Conversely, low levels of physical activity are linked with lower levels of social support in young adults which may influence risk factors for depression over one's life."