Supervised aerobic exercise was found to have antidepressant treatment effects for patients with major depression. The systematic review and meta-analysis is published in Depression and Anxiety.
Across 11 eligible trials involving 455 adult patients (18-65 years old) with major depression as a primary disorder, supervised aerobic exercise was performed on average for 45 minutes, at moderate intensity, 3 times per week, and for 9.2 weeks.
‘Supervised aerobic exercise can significantly support major depression treatment in mental health services. ’
It showed a significantly large overall antidepressant effect compared with antidepressant medication and/or psychological therapies.
Also, aerobic exercise revealed moderate-to-large antidepressant effects among trials with lower risk of bias, as well as large antidepressant effects among trials with short-term interventions (up to 4 weeks) and trials involving preferences for exercise.
Subgroup analyses revealed comparable effects for aerobic exercise across various settings and delivery formats, and in both outpatients and inpatients regardless of symptom severity.