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Psychiatry Res. 2016 Oct 30;244:202-9. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2016.07.028. Epub 2016 Jul 22.

Exercise improves depressive symptoms in older adults: An umbrella review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

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Health Sciences CTS-451 Research Group, University of Almeria, 04120 Almería, Spain, Spain; Faculty of Communication, University Carlos III of Madrid, 28903 Getafe, Madrid, Spain. Electronic address:
Faculty of Medicine, University of Murcia, Campus Espinardo, 30100 Murcia, Spain. Electronic address:
Health Service and Population Research Department, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, De Crespigny Park, London Box SE5 8AF, United Kingdom; Physiotherapy Department, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, Denmark Hill, London SE5 8AZ, United Kingdom. Electronic address:
University of Leuven, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Tervuursevest 101, 3001 Leuven, Belgium; UPC KU Leuven, campus Kortenberg, University of Leuven, Department of Neurosciences, Leuvensesteeweg 517, 3070 Kortenberg, Belgium. Electronic address:


Late-life depression is a growing public health concern. Exercise may be of added value but the literature remains equivocal. We conducted a systematic overview of meta-analyses and an exploratory pooled analysis of previous meta-analyses to determine the effect of exercise on depression in older adults. Two independent researchers searched Pubmed, CINAHL, Cochrane Plus, PsycArticles, and PsycInfo for meta-analyses on exercise in late-life depression. Methodological quality was assessed using the Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) Instrument. We pooled effect sizes from previous meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials to determine the effect of exercise on depression in older adults. The systematic review yielded 3 meta-analyses. In total, 16 unique cohorts of 1487 participants were included. The quality of the three included meta-analyses was considered as "moderate" according to AMSTAR scores. No serious adverse events were reported. Compared to controls (n=583), those exercising (n=541) significantly reduced depressive symptoms. Our umbrella review indicates that exercise is safe and efficacious in reducing depressive symptoms in older people. Since exercise has many other known health benefits, it should be considered as a core intervention in the multidisciplinary treatment of older adults experiencing depression.


Depression; Elderly; Physical activity; Review

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