Impact of exercise on patients with depression and anxiety

Unit for Psychiatric Research, Aalborg Psychiatric Hospital, Denmark.
Nordic journal of psychiatry (Impact Factor: 1.5). 05/2010; 64(3):210-7. DOI: 10.3109/08039480903511373
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Persons with common mental disorders are at risk of lowered physical activity.
To investigate if patients with depressive and/or anxiety disorders can achieve a level of physical activity meeting public health recommendations, increase their physical fitness and quality of life (QoL) through participation in a physical exercise programme.
In a non-blinded controlled study, 48 patients referred by private psychiatric clinics and private general practices were either treated in an intervention (n=27) or a control group (n=21). The intervention group took part in 20 weeks of group exercise consisting of aerobic training and non-aerobic weight-lifting. All participants were interviewed and tested at baseline, week 20 and at week 32.
The intervention group increased in physical activity (120 min/week) and VO(2)max (0.48 ml O(2)/min). The VO(2)max increase was maintained after a 12-week follow-up period. Findings should be conservatively interpreted because of high attrition rate.
Patients with anxiety and/or depressive disorders who participated in a structured, supervised exercise programme achieved in accordance with public health recommendations a higher level of physical activity and VO(2)max.
The clinical implications of the study may be a suggestion of offering physical exercise to milder and moderate severe cases of depression and anxiety.

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    • "It is well established that there is a substantial association between physical activity and mental state. Recent data suggest that physical exercise may reduce depressive symptoms and have a therapeutic benefit in patients with major depression, (Blumenthal et al., 2007; Carek et al., 2011; Dinas et al., 2011; Legrand and Heuze, 2007; Oeland et al., 2010; Strohle, 2009) although it is not clear which type and intensity of exercise is most effective (Cooney et al., 2013; Krogh et al., 2011; Stanton and Reaburn, 2014). Furthermore, most studies investigating the influence of physical exercise on mood showed a significant positive relationship between levels of physical activity and the absence of mood disorders like anxiety or depression (Galper et al., 2006; Goodwin, 2003; van Gool et al., 2007), but it seems doubtful to conclude causality from these cross-sectional analyses because depression symptoms are also characterized by fatigue and loss of energy which may themselves lead to a decrease in activity. "
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