Exercise Interventions for Mental Health: A Quantitative and Qualitative Review

Clinical Psychology Science and Practice (Impact Factor: 2.92). 05/2006; 13(2):179 - 193. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2850.2006.00021.x

ABSTRACT Associations between exercise and mental well-being have been documented repeatedly over the last two decades. More recently, there has been application of exercise interventions to clinical populations diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and eating disorders with evidence of substantial benefit. Nonetheless, attention to the efficacy of exercise interventions in clinical settings has been notably absent in the psychosocial treatment literature, as have been calls for the integration of these methods within the clinical practice of psychologists. In this article, we provide a quantitative and qualitative review of these efficacy studies in clinical samples and discuss the potential mechanism of action of exercise interventions, with attention to both biological and psychosocial processes. The meta-analysis of 11 treatment outcome studies of individuals with depression yielded a very large combined effect size for the advantage of exercise over control conditions: g = 1.39 (95% CI: .89–1.88), corresponding to a d = 1.42 (95% CI: .92–1.93). Based on these findings, we encourage clinicians to consider the role of adjunctive exercise interventions in their clinical practice and we discuss issues concerning this integration.

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    ABSTRACT: Background. Exercise has been suggested to be a viable treatment for depression. This study investigates the effect of supervised aerobic exercise training on depressive symptoms and physical performance among Chinese patients with mild to moderate depression in early in-patient phase. Methods. A randomized repeated measure and assessor-blinded study design was used. Subjects in aerobic exercise group received 30 minutes of aerobic training, five days a week for 3 weeks. Depressive symptoms (MADRS and C-BDI) and domains in physical performance were assessed at baseline and program end. Results. Subjects in aerobic exercise group showed a more significant reduction in depressive scores (MADRS) as compared to control (between-group mean difference = 10.08 ± 9.41; P = 0.026) after 3 weeks training. The exercise group also demonstrated a significant improvement in flexibility (between-group mean difference = 4.4 ± 6.13; P = 0.02). Limitations. There was lack of longitudinal followup to examine the long-term effect of aerobic exercise on patients with depression. Conclusions. Aerobic exercise in addition to pharmacological intervention can have a synergistic effect in reducing depressive symptoms and increasing flexibility among Chinese population with mild to moderate depression. Early introduction of exercise training in in-patient phase can help to bridge the gap of therapeutic latency of antidepressants during its nonresponse period.
    Rehabilitation research and practice. 01/2014; 2014:627376.
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: In recent years, exercise has been increasingly prescribed as a therapeutic alternative in the treatment of depressive disorders. Nevertheless, its therapeutic efficacy has not been systematically evaluated. Objective: To systematically review the evidence regarding the therapeutic efficacy of exercise in the treatment of depressive disorders in humans. Methods: A search of the literature was performed in Medline using the following MeSH terms: exercise, depression, and the connector AND. Secondary sources of literature were included too. Search results were collected and reviewed independently and systematically by trained clines. Results: There is sufficient evidence supporting a bidirectional association between sedentarism and depressive disorders. Thus it is biologically plausible that exercise may have antidepressive effects. However, the evidence regarding its therapeutic efficacy alone is inconclusive. Conclusions: Exercise may improve specific symptoms in subjects with major depression. Although inconclusive, evidence suggests that exercise may be useful as a complementary therapy in the treatment of depressive disorders.
    Revista Colombiana de Psiquiatría. 12/2010; 39(4):732-748.
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    Frontiers in Psychiatry 01/2014; 5:64.


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May 22, 2014