Background: Depression is a common and important cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Depression is commonly treated with antidepressants and/or psychotherapy, but some people may prefer alternative approaches such as exercise. There are a number of theoretical reasons why exercise may improve depression.
Objectives: To determine the effectiveness of exercise in the treatment of depression.
Authors’ conclusions: Exercise seems to improve depressive symptoms in people with a diagnosis of depression, but when only methodologically robust trials are included, the effect sizes are only moderate and not statistically significant. Further, more methodologically robust trials should be performed to obtain more accurate estimates of effect sizes, and to determine risks and costs. Further systematic reviews could be performed to investigate the effect of exercise in people with dysthymia who do not fulfil diagnostic criteria for depression.
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