Regular exercise may be the cure for depression, study claims

"We expect this review to lead to updated guidelines and recommendations for exercise as a first-line treatment option."
Nergis Firtina
Exercise stock image.
Exercise stock image.


One of the prominent actions to have a healthy life is regular exercise. According to a recent study, it is also good for our mental health. It is thought of as a serious treatment option for depression.

Published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in February, the study suggests that data from 41 articles and 2,264 people with depression were examined to observe how regular exercise would affect their symptoms. The researchers found that the impact of exercise on depression was significant enough to warrant it being offered as "an evidence-based treatment option" for the condition, as reported by Business Insider.

"We found large, significant results," Andreas Heissel, a researcher at the University of Potsdam in Germany and lead author of the study, told The Washington Post. "We expect this review to lead to updated guidelines and recommendations for exercise as a first-line treatment option."

Additionally, Felipe Schuch, a professor at the University of Santa Maria in Brazil and senior author of the study, said that the data showed exercise provided better results than treatments regularly prescribed for depression today, like medicine and talk therapy.

Not a first-line treatment, yet

However, there is still a long way to go before regular exercise is considered the "first-line treatment." Researchers from institutions like the University of Potsdam in Germany, the University of Santa Maria in Brazil, and the University of Manchester in England, among other places, said that future studies should look at whether exercise is effective as a long-term treatment and whether it may not be a good treatment for certain groups.

They said that the studies they examined included participants who were willing and motivated to exercise and excluded individuals for whom exercise might pose a risk because of existing health problems. Not everyone has access to high-quality forms of exercise, they suggested.

Study abstract:

To estimate the efficacy of exercise on depressive symptoms compared with non-active control groups and to determine the moderating effects of exercise on depression and the presence of publication bias. Systematic review and meta-analysis with meta-regression. The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, PubMed, MEDLINE, Embase, SPORTDiscus, PsycINFO, Scopus, and Web of Science were searched without language restrictions from inception to 13 September 2022 (PROSPERO registration no CRD42020210651). Randomized controlled trials including participants aged 18 years or older with a diagnosis of major depressive disorder or those with depressive symptoms determined by validated screening measures scoring above the threshold value, investigating the effects of an exercise intervention (aerobic and/or resistance exercise) compared with a non-exercising control group.

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