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Psychiatr Danub. 2015 Sep;27(3):210-24.

What are the factors that influence physical activity participation in individuals with depression? A review of physical activity correlates from 59 studies.

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KU Leuven - University of Leuven Department of Neurosciences, Z. org Leuven, Campus Kortenberg, Leuvensesteenweg 517, B-3070 Kortenberg, Belgium,



The present review systematically evaluates correlates of physical activity across the socio-ecological model for people with depression.


Two independent reviewers searched Embase, PubMed, and CINAHL from their inception until May 2015, combining the medical subject heading 'depression' or 'depressive' with 'physical activity' or 'exercise'. Data were extracted by the same independent researchers and summarized according to the socio-ecological model.


Fifty-nine papers involving 101,539 persons with depression were eligible and enabled us to evaluate 42 correlates. Correlates that were consistently (n ≥ 4) associated with lower physical activity participation in depressed persons were a higher level of depressive symptoms, a higher body mass index, the presence of physical co-morbidity and a lower self-efficacy. The role of social, environmental and policy factors on physical activity participation is unknown and should be addressed in future research.


In persons with depression physical activity participation is a complex behavior that is influenced by many different factors. Significant correlates should be confirmed in prospective studies. Interventions to improve modifiable physical and mental health variables in people with depression should be developed and evaluated.

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