Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2017 Jan 22. doi: 10.1111/acps.12690. [Epub ahead of print]

A systematic review of cognitive effects of exercise in depression.

Author information

  • 1Department of Brain and Behavioral Science, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.
  • 2Laboratory of Adapted Motor Activity, Department of Public Health, Experimental Medicine & Forensic Science, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy.
  • 3WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training in Mental Health and Service Evaluation, Section of Psychiatry, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.



The aim of the present systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate the impact of physical exercise on cognitive symptoms in depressed adult patients.


Systematic literature search was performed in Web of Science™ and CINAHL from inception to August 2016. Two reviewers independently selected randomized trials evaluating the effect of exercise on cognitive functions in patients with a validated diagnosis of depression. Outcome measures included global cognition and different cognitive domains (speed of processing, attention/vigilance, working memory, verbal and visual memory, and reasoning).


Eight trials met inclusion criteria (637 patients). A fixed-effects model showed absence of beneficial effect on global cognition (Hedges' g = 0.07, 95% CI -0.08 to 0.24, I = 0%) as well as on specific cognitive domains. Sensitivity analyses did not show an impact of exercise in studies with shorter intervention duration compared to longer trials (between group heterogeneity Q = 3.564, df = 1, P = 0.059), single session per week compared to multiple sessions (Q = 2.691, df = 1, P = 0.101) and low exercise intensity compared with moderate/high intensity (Q = 2.952, df = 1, P = 0.086).


Our meta-analysis did not observe a substantial benefit of physical exercise on cognitive symptoms in depression.


cognition; depressive disorder; exercise; meta-analysis

[PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Wiley
    Loading ...
    Support Center