Why running could bring a smile to depressed teens... and their gut microbiota
A study conducted on adolescents with depressive disorders aims to show that running improves their symptoms and induces significant changes in their gut microbiota, suggesting beneficial effects for health.
About this article
Encouraging teenagers with depressive episodes to run regularly may prevent them from developing full-blown depression. A new study points to a link between the protective effect of physical activity and the changes it induces in gut microbiota.
Move your body to fight depression
The scientists achieved this result by conducting a study on 25 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 14 with “subthreshold depression.” This type of depression is characterized by the presence, for 2 weeks or more, of at least 2 significant symptoms of depression described in the Manual of Mental Disorders :
- a depressed mood,
- weight loss or gain,
- agitation or psychomotor slowing,
- feelings of guilt,
It is associated with a 40% risk of one day developing a major depressive disorder (MDD).
The adolescents enrolled in the study were assigned randomly to two groups: in one, they were asked to run for half an hour at moderate intensity 4 days a week; in the other, they participated in games, singing and reading every 2 weeks. Before and after the 3 months of experimentation, the stools of all participants were collected and analyzed to establish the composition of the gut microbiota.
The gut microbiota
Moving and running to (positively) influence your gut microbiota
The results indicate a significant improvement in depressive symptoms in the group of runners, compared to no change in the group that played games and read. Running also induced clear changes in the adolescents’ gut microbiota.
Those who ran had more Coprococcus and Blautia, two bacterial genera that produce butyrate, a (sidenote: Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) are a source of energy (fuel) for an individual’s cells. They interact with the immune system and are involved in communication between the intestine and the brain. Silva YP, Bernardi A, Frozza RL. The Role of Short-Chain Fatty Acids From Gut Microbiota in Gut-Brain Communication. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2020;11:25. ) (SCFA) known for its health benefits (e.g. anti-inflammatory protection in the intestines).
They also had more Dorea and Tyzzerella, bacterial genera that do not yet have a fully established link to depression.