Supervised exercise is effective for some patients with depression

Clinical Question

Is supervised aerobic exercise effective for people with depression or depressive symptoms?

Bottom line

This study is difficult to parse, given the nonspecificity of the diagnosis of depression, the low quality of half the included studies, the small numbers of participants in each study, and the high degree of heterogeneity among the interventions and results. But here goes: With an NNT of between 2 and 3, it seems worth a try to offer a supervised exercise program to patients with less severe depression to help reduce symptoms. 1a-

Study design: Meta-analysis (other)

Funding: Self-funded or unfunded

Setting: Various (meta-analysis)


Allen F. Shaughnessy, PharmD, MMedEd
Professor of Family Medicine
Tufts University
Boston, MA

Discuss this POEM



Exercice et depression

Rassurant de voir que l’exercice peut améliorer les symptômes dépressifs avec un nombre à traiter bas!


Impact assessment

Very good

Pieter Richard Verbeek

Supervised excercise for depression

Interesting choice of article for a POEM given its goal is to review "Patient Oriented Evidence that Matters". Not sure this article meets the bill. With a NNT between 2 and 3, it means there would be a HUGE beneficial treatment effect so for the reviewer to be so circumspect (maybe hesitant would be a better word) in his review suggests to me the article is highly suspect in its conclusions. A meta-regression of a meta-analysis of articles that have high heterogeneity and at high risk of bias make me conclude the article is of extremely limited value from a evidence basis. Add that to the topic being limited to "supervised exercise" rather than just "exercise" makes me also conclude I'd need much more primary research done in this area to suggest this to a patient.


Exercise and depression

As per the reviewers comments