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Exercise for Depression... a review

Depression is a common and disabling illness, affecting over 100 million people worldwide. Depression can have a significant impact on people’s physical health, as well as reducing their quality of life. Research has shown that both pharmacological and psychological therapies can be effective in treating depression. However, many people prefer to try alternative treatments.

Some NHS guidelines suggest that exercise could be used as a different treatment choice. However, it is not clear if research actually shows that exercise is an effective treatment for depression.

Exercise is moderately more effective than a control intervention for reducing symptoms of depression, but analysis of methodologically robust trials only shows a smaller effect in favour of exercise. When compared to psychological or pharmacological therapies, exercise appears to be no more effective, though this conclusion is based on a few small trials.

This is an extensive review of the science ...


Exercise may have a moderately beneficial effect on depressive symptoms, according to an updated literature review and meta-analysis.

However, investigators note that more high-quality studies are needed to elucidate the type and intensity of exercise that may be most effective and whether these benefits are durable.

"Our review suggested that exercise might have a moderate effect on depression," review author Gillian Mead, MD, of the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom, said in a statement.

"We can't tell from currently available evidence which kinds of exercise regimes are most effective or whether the benefits continue after a patient stops their exercise program," she added.

Medscape Article on this topic....


8 Replies

Tried to access the first link and it said "Forbidden - you don't have permission to access".

Tried to access the next link and it said I had to log in or sign up for a free account. I've got a feeling I've already done that for Medscape, but can't remember my password. So, I abandoned computer entirely, and went and hoovered the dining room and hall. After all that exercise, I felt a lot better.

Anyway, whatever the research might show, I think we've probably all noticed that we feel better when we've been active, especially when we've spent a long time on the computer, then shut it down and go and do something active. Trouble is, if our health problems mean we can't be so active any more, (depressing in itself), it's not so easy to use exercise as a way of cheering ourselves up.

Happy days....

P.S. I like the red flowers. Having a photo at the top of a post always lifts the spirits.

P.S. I'm not wanting to trivialise the devastating effects of real clinical depression, which is far deeper than my frustrations at the computer.


Paula the report can be found here. HU has problems with links sometimes



Ah yes, it works now. Thanks.


Of interest also is that in Japan the doctors will send patients to the forests.

This ‘ Forest Cure ‘ is not specifically exercise, but just getting the patients out in fresh air and out of the stressful city noise and pollution.

Let’s face it, if one believes in Darwinian principles, the human body and mind were not developed over millions of years to sit in a polluted noisy environment eating chips and watching a television.!! The human body has been developed for a life of hunting and gathering out in the fresh air.

PS WOW the fresh blackberries in the field hedges are good in England this year..!!



I read a study recently that showed a correlation between a person's good health and just their proximity to a forest or wooded area - even if they never actually used it. I've forgotten the details but I think people within 1 km of such an area showed better health than their counterparts who live deep in the urban jungle.

Eastern religions often place an emphasis on the interconnection between all living things. Some astronauts who view the earth from space also get a strong feeling that everything and everyone is interconnected - its called the Overview Effect. I sometimes wonder if science will eventually find merit in this idea?

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For more on this subject, which is something that I have researched, see my post of earlier today on some new research. There are also links to more articles and research.

see this page.




Hi I lead a "Walk for Health" group and can give personal experience of the benefits. Although I don't suffer from depression myself those who do and join such groups always report positive experiences. Whether its the just getting up in the morning or being with other people or being in the feash air it all benefits. Best wishes


Since you lead a 'Walk for Health' group see my new post today.




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