Depression is a common and disabling illness, affecting approximately 121 million adults worldwide. While depression is commonly treated with antidepressants or psychological therapy, there is increasing interest in the effect of alternative therapies. Exercise has been advocated as a treatment for depression and has been the subject of research for several decades. In our previous Cochrane review, we found that exercise seemed to improve depressive symptoms in people with a diagnosis of depression, but further research was needed. Since then, several new trials have been published. This updated review has identified all available randomised trials which compared exercise with either no treatment or an established treatment (e.g. talking therapy) for people with a diagnosis of depression. We combined data from 30 trials. There were some methodological problems with some of the trials, which limits our confidence in the conclusions drawn. There were 28 trials (1101 participants) that included a comparison of exercise with either waiting list or placebo; overall, we found exercise seemed to improve the symptoms of depression. However, when only the high-quality trials were included, the effect on depression was small. More research is needed to confirm these findings.
Exercise for depression
July 11, 2012