2013 Volume 28 Pages 20-25
The number of depressive patients is increasing in Japan. Depression is commonly treated with antidepressants and/or psychotherapy, the potential use of exercise as an alternative or complementary treatment for depression has recently received considerable attention. There are a number of physiological reasons why exercise may improve depression. The scientific evidence from prospective cohort studies supports the overall conclusion that regular participation in exercise is associated with reduced depressive symptoms. The results of randomized controlled trials indicate that participation in exercise programs reduces depressive symptoms in people diagnosed as depressed, healthy adults, and medical patients without psychiatric disorders. The results of two meta-analyses have demonstrated that effect sizes in intervention studies for depressed people are large. However, the evidence is not always consistent. Despite some inconsistencies in research findings, in the UK, guidelines which include exercise as a management strategy for depression; NICE guidelines have recommended structured, supervised exercise programs for mild to moderate depression. Further studies that are methodologically robust are required to determine more accurately the effect of exercise on depression. Optimal physical activity dose for reducing the depressive symptom should be extensively studied to for the prescription of appropriate exercise to improve mental health.