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Child Psychiatrist /Adult Psychiatrist

Review: Exercise Is Effective Treatment for Depression

HealthDay News — Exercise is an effective treatment for depression, especially when intense, according to a review published online Feb. 14 in The BMJ.


Treatment for Depression

Michael Noetel, Ph.D., from the University of Queensland in St. Lucia, Australia, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and network meta-analysis to identify the optimal dose and modality of exercise for treating major depressive disorder. A total of 218 unique studies with 495 arms and 14,170 participants were included.


The researchers found moderate reductions in depression for walking or jogging, yoga, strength training, mixed aerobic exercises, and tai chi or qigong compared with active controls (e.g., usual care, placebo tablet; (Hedges’ g, −0.62, −0.55, −0.49, −0.43, and −0.42, respectively). The impact of exercise was proportional to the intensity. The most acceptable modalities seemed to be strength training and yoga. The results were robust to publication bias; only one study met the Cochrane criteria for a low risk for bias. Confidence in the network meta-analysis was considered low for walking and jogging and very low for other modalities.


“Our findings support the inclusion of exercise as part of clinical practice guidelines for depression, particularly vigorous intensity exercise,” the authors write. “Doing so may help bridge the gap in treatment coverage by increasing the range of first-line options for patients and health systems.”

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