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

Christopher Bridle*, Kathleen Spanjers, Shilpa Patel, Nicola M. Atherton, Sarah E. Lamb

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

    273 Citations (SciVal)

    Abstract

    Background

    The prevelance 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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)180-185
    Number of pages6
    JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
    Volume201
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012

    Keywords

    • LIFE
    • INTERVENTIONS
    • PROGRAM
    • PHYSICAL-ACTIVITY
    • SYMPTOMS
    • DISORDERS
    • ADULTS

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