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Br J Psychiatry. 2012 Sep;201(3):180-5. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.111.095174.

Effect of exercise on depression severity in older people: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.

Author information

1
Warwick Clinical Trials Unit, Division of Health Sciences, Warwick Medical School, The University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, UK. c.bridle@warwick.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

The prevalence of depression in older people is high, treatment is inadequate, it creates a substantial burden and is a public health priority for which exercise has been proposed as a therapeutic strategy.

AIMS:

To estimate the effect of exercise on depressive symptoms among older people, and assess whether treatment effect varies depending on the depression criteria used to determine participant eligibility.

METHOD:

Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials of exercise for depression in older people.

RESULTS:

Nine trials met the inclusion criteria and seven were meta-analysed. Exercise was associated with significantly lower depression severity (standardised mean difference (SMD) = -0.34, 95% CI -0.52 to -0.17), irrespective of whether participant eligibility was determined by clinical diagnosis (SMD = -0.38, 95% CI -0.67 to -0.10) or symptom checklist (SMD = -0.34, 95% CI -0.62 to -0.06). Results remained significant in sensitivity analyses.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our findings suggest that, for older people who present with clinically meaningful symptoms of depression, prescribing structured exercise tailored to individual ability will reduce depression severity.

PMID:
22945926
DOI:
10.1192/bjp.bp.111.095174
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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