Research has indicated that depressed older individuals are at higher risk of dying than their counterparts without depression. In addition, physical inactivity accounted for a significant proportion (25 percent) of the risk of cardiovascular death due to depression in adults age 65 years and older, according to a 5,900-person U.S. study.

“These data suggest that preventive health and wellness programs in older adults, particularly those with depression, should focus on encouraging enrollment and continued participation in exercise programs,” the study concluded.

The study also added that positive financial incentives, health insurance rebates, transportation vouchers or health club memberships might enhance participation of older adults with depression in these programs and thereby reduce healthcare utilization and the risk of cardiovascular events.

1. Win S, Parakh K, Eze-Nliam CM, et al. Depressive symptoms, physical inactivity and risk of cardiovascular mortality in older adults: the Cardiovascular Health Study. Heart 2011; 97: 500-505. (open access)