Physical exercise for late-life major depression

Br J Psychiatry. 2015 Sep;207(3):235-42. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.150516. Epub 2015 Jul 23.


Background: Interventions including physical exercise may help improve the outcomes of late-life major depression, but few studies are available.

Aims: To investigate whether augmenting sertraline therapy with physical exercise leads to better outcomes of late-life major depression.

Method: Primary care patients (465 years) with major depression were randomised to 24 weeks of higher-intensity, progressive aerobic exercise plus sertraline (S+PAE), lower-intensity, non-progressive exercise plus sertraline (S+NPE) and sertraline alone. The primary outcome was remission (a score of ≤10 on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression).

Results: A total of 121 patients were included. At study end, 45% of participants in the sertraline group, 73% of those in the S+NPE group and 81% of those in the S+PAE group achieved remission (P = 0.001). A shorter time to remission was observed in the S+PAE group than in the sertraline-only group.

Conclusions: Physical exercise may be a safe and effective augmentation to antidepressant therapy in late-life major depression.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medication Adherence
  • Remission Induction
  • Sertraline / therapeutic use
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Sertraline