Is Exercise a Viable Treatment for Depression?

ACSMs Health Fit J. 2012 Jul;16(4):14-21. doi: 10.1249/01.FIT.0000416000.09526.eb.


Depression is a common disorder that is associated with compromised quality of life, increased health care costs, and greater risk for a variety of medical conditions, particularly coronary heart disease. This review examines methods for assessing depression and discusses current treatment approaches. Traditional treatments include psychotherapy and antidepressant medications, but such treatments are not effective for all patients and alternative approaches have recently received increased attention, especially the use of aerobic exercise. This review examines evidence that exercise is effective in improving depressive symptoms among patients with major depression and offers practical suggestions for helping patients initiate and maintain exercise in their daily lives.

Keywords: Aerobic exercise; cardiovascular disease; depression; major depressive disorder; myocardial infarction; physical activity.