Regular exercise may help alleviate symptoms of depression, finds study
Exercise has shown to be beneficial for many diseases and is an inexpensive, easily modifiable lifestyle factor with virtually no negative side effects.
According to a recent review published in BMC Public Health, exercise interventions have a beneficial effect on depressive symptoms in the general population across a wide age-range.
Mental health disorder affects about 150 million people worldwide at any moment. Approximately 1 in 5 women and 1 in 8 men suffer from a major depressive episode during their lifetime.
Cross-sectional studies have previously shown exercise and depression to be associated, and prospective studies have indicated that low exercise may precede the onset of depression. However, evidence for a beneficial effect of exercise interventions on the prevention of depression differs substantially across different studies.
Looking at the inconsistencies in the previous researches, researchers sought to undertake the present systematic review with the aims to give an overview of meta-analyses of randomized trials published from data inception to July 2018 on the effect of exercise interventions on depression and depressive symptoms.
A systematic search was performed up to July 2018 using PubMed, Embase, PsycINFO, and Cochrane, and all related articles were included.
Results revealed the following important facts.
Eight meta-analyses were included that showed little overlap in 134 included studies. All meta-analyses reported on depressive symptoms rather than the onset of depression. Five of these were rated as moderate quality and three of low quality.
Six meta-analyses found significant effects, and two found non-significant effects of exercise interventions in reducing depressive symptoms in children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly (effect sizes ranging from − 0.10 to − 0.81).
Scarce evidence did not allow to conclude the role of sex and characteristics of exercise on depression. However, some findings suggest that low-intensity exercise was as effective as high-intensity exercise.
Heterogeneity among primary studies was high, likely caused by differences in study quality and type of exercises.
"As exercise has shown to be beneficial for many health aspects and is an inexpensive, easily modifiable lifestyle factor with virtually no negative side effects, the evidence from this systematic review might help to develop early intervention strategies for depression." Concluded the researchers.
For the full article click on the link: Hu, M.X., Turner, D., Generaal, E. et al. Exercise interventions for the prevention of depression: a systematic review of meta-analyses. BMC Public Health 20, 1255 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-09323-y
Primary source: BMC Public Health